Literary Hoaxes

Journalist Fabricates Interviews With Star Authors

After writing a Talk of the Town story for The New Yorker about an Italian journalist named Tommaso Debenedetti who fabricated interviews with Philip Roth and John Grisham, Judith Thurman has discovered several other writers with whom Debenedetti faked interviews. Toni Morrison, E.L. Doctorow, Gunter Grass, Gore Vidal, A.B. Yeohoshua, and Nadine Gordimer all deny having ever spoken with Debenedetti, despite his having published interviews with them. He has also interviewed other writers like V.S. Naipaul, Jose Saramago, Amos Oz, Elie Wiesel, and J.M. Coetzee. When Debenedetti’s editor at Il Piccolo was contacted, she said she had just learned about the fabrications 30 minutes before Thurman’s call. “It is appalling,” his editor said, “that someone would use such an illustrious name to mask a hoax.”