Saturday, April 16, 2011

A new literary scandal brews...

All eyes in the book world will be on 60 Minutes on Sunday night (US time) as they reveal allegations against inspirational author Greg Mortenson that stories in his best selling memoirs are blatantly untrue.

After a failed attempt to scale the world's second largest mountain, K2, an exhausted and lost Mortenson apparently stumbled into a Pakistani village where the kindness and warmth he received led him to build a school there.

But 60 Minutes allege many stories in the book that resulted from this experience, "Three Cups of Tea" and his follow up "Stones Into Schools" are half truths and lies - including an alleged abduction by Taliban militants in Afghanistan in 1996.

And it's not just allegations of story fabrication Mortenson faces: 60 Minutes also reports a charity watchdog has information which shows large amounts of money raised by his charitable organisation Central Asia Institute (CAI) to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan have never made it to their intended destination. Some of the schools the CAI built were empty, others were not built by CAI at all while some did not even exist.

The explosive allegations, to which Mortenson has not yet responded to, can be read here:

Kinda makes the James Frey/Oprah controversy look a little tame in comparison huh? I will definitely be picking up tomorrow my copy of "Three Cups of Tea" (which has been languishing on my To Be Read bookcase for a couple of years).


bookmagic said...

I thought the memoir was an exaggeration as it was way too detailed. And I found it kind of boring. What a shame for those kids if his charity is not on the up and up.

Café Chick said...

It wouldn't be the first time something like this has happened. Two examples of 'autobiographical novels' that probably resemble fiction and hyperbole more than actual memoirs would be Papillon (Henri Charrière) and Scar Tissue, by Anthony Kiedis. Perhaps the inclusion of ultra-explicit detail is the first clue that all might not be as it appears?

Reese M. said...

I found this interesting, as I had no idea that a scandal was even brewing. I've been curious about this book for quite a while, but just had never had the chance to pick it up yet. Wonder if Mortenson will respond in the 60 minutes piece?

In any case, I found this lovely blog via twitter, and as usual, I am happy to have found a new blog to add to my daily routine. Thanks!

- Reese M.
BibliophileGil (MissBookishGirl on twitter)