In America (novel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from In America (Sontag))
Jump to: navigation, search
In America
In America.jpg
Author Susan Sontag
Language English
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)

In America is a 1999 novel by Susan Sontag which won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction[1] It is based on the true story of Polish actress Helena Modjeska (called Maryna Zalewska in the book), her arrival in California in 1876, and her ascendency to American stardom.[2]

Alleged plagiarism[edit]

Sontag was accused of plagiarism by Ellen Lee, who discovered at least twelve passages in the 387-page book that were similar to passages in four other books about Modjeska, including My Mortal Enemy, a novel by Willa Cather. (Cather wrote: "When Oswald asked her to propose a toast, she put out her long arm, lifted her glass, and looking into the blur of the candlelight with a grave face, said: 'To my coun-n-try!'" Sontag wrote, "When asked to propose a toast, she put out her long arm, lifted her glass, and looking into the blur of the candlelight, crooned, 'To my new country!'" "Country," muttered Miss Collingridge. "Not 'coun-n-try.'") The quotations were presented without credit or attribution. Sontag said about using the passages, "All of us who deal with real characters in history transcribe and adopt original sources in the original domain. I've used these sources and I've completely transformed them. I have these books. I've looked at these books. There's a larger argument to be made that all of literature is a series of references and allusions."[3]


The literary critic Terry Castle has called the book "excruciatingly turgid."


  1. ^ "National Book Awards – 2000". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
    (With essays by Jessica Hicks and Elizabeth Yale from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
  2. ^ Obituary of Susan Sontag, New York Times, December 28, 2004
  3. ^ Carvajal, Doreen (May 27, 2002) "So Whose Words Are They? Susan Sontag Creates a Stir." New York Times Book Review.
Preceded by
Ha Jin
National Book Award for Fiction
Succeeded by
The Corrections
Jonathan Franzen