In theory, the author of a great novel is invisible to the reader, letting her stories and characters speak for themselves. In practice, however, it can help for an author to make herself known, as explained by Tim Parks in this essay. Sample quote: “We have the impression that if someone ever did find the full story of his life, we would immediately recognize the person we had in mind.”
On the London Review of Books blog, Kaya Genç makes the case that the similarities between the successful Turkish author Elif Şafak's work and Zadie Smith's books is a fact of Turkey's shifting cultural values rather than plagiarism: "Istanbul, the city Shafak returned to after writing her book in London and the setting for many of her earlier novels, resembles London more and more." For a bit of context, here's Lydia Kiesling's rundown of the initial scandal.