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Dear Lord, Not Again

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 6:45pm

Another Literary Non-Fiction Crisis

The Australian newspaper claims that another literary scandal is brewing. They have recently reported alleged inaccuracies in A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah's memoir of his life as a refugee and child soldier during the Sierra Leone civil war.

The inaccuracies mostly centre on the dates of certain events in Beah's account. The Australian reportedly found "evidence that his ordeal lasted one year, not three" as Beah claims in his book.

But the author's US publisher immediately stood by their author, and Beah himself issued a statement that his account of events--dates included--was correct. "I am right about my story," he wrote. "This is not something one gets wrong."

Meanwhile, The Australian continues to investigate contradictions between Beah's testimony with the memories of people in Sierra Leone who supposedly knew him from that time.

Although The Australian has yet to fully confirm its reports, critics and supporters are dividing themselves along lines similar to those taken during the scandal that erupted over James Frey. (Frey, too, was taken to task for exaggerations and inaccuracies in his memoir A Million Little Pieces).

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