‘If you think you know what this collection will be like, you’re wrong,’ Carmen Maria Machado (author of the brilliant Her Body and Other Parties, 2017) states on the back cover of Kristen Roupenian’s provocatively titled début, You Know You Want This. It is an unusual description of a short story collection from an emerging author, but Roupenian is not your average débutante. She is the author of ‘Cat Person’, the short story that launched a thousand hot takes after the New Yorker published it in December 2017.
Published during the rise of the #MeToo movement, ‘Cat Person’ – a finely written, conversation-starter of a story – relates the prelude to, and aftermath of, a bad date between twenty-year-old Margo and thirty-four-year-old Robert in confronting, nuanced detail. ‘Cat Person’ captured the public imagination to an extraordinary degree. Roupenian, then an MFA student at the University of Michigan, became the author of the ‘first short story to go viral’. A subsequent bidding war by publishers resulted in a seven-figure book deal.