Go viral, score book deal. ‘Cat Person’ author sells her debut book in the U.K., with U.S. deal in the works

Kristen Roupenian’s “Cat Person,” in which a college woman’s brief relationship with a 34-year-old man largely takes place over text messages, has led to a book deal in the U.K. and a bidding war in the U.S.
(Eugenio Marongiu/Getty )

The debut book from Kristen Roupenian, whose New Yorker short story “Cat Person” went viral far beyond the scope of most short fiction when it was published earlier this month, has been sold to British publisher Jonathan Cape, the Guardian reports.

Roupenian’s short story collection, “You Know You Want This,” is also reportedly the subject of a bidding war in the United States, with 11 publishers jockeying to buy the book, and the asking price now around $1 million.

“Cat Person,” published in the Dec. 11 issue of the New Yorker, tells the story of college student Margot, who briefly dates Robert, a 34-year-old man whom she met at the movie theater where she works. After Margot ends the relationship, Robert continues to send her text messages, eventually turning hostile after Margot makes it clear that she no longer wants to communicate with him.


On social media, Roupenian’s story ignited a fierce debate. Some readers found the tale a relatable chronicle of the relationships between women and men; others critiqued the actions of the two as if they were real people; some liked the prose; others came away from the story unimpressed.

The story sparked several think pieces in the days after its publication, with many writers noting that its look at misogyny and male entitlement was especially timely in the era of the #MeToo movement.

Jonathan Cape publishing director Michal Shavit said she bought the book the day after it was submitted to the publisher.

“She’s the real deal,” Shavit said. “‘Cat Person’ captured the public imagination to become a phenomenon. You see that so rarely in literary fiction. It’s an extraordinary story of human relationships and the sexual dynamics between a man and a woman, the power plays within that. It doesn’t just play into the #MeToo thing — she just writes very honestly and truthfully about the human experience.”

Shavit said the collection doesn’t just feature stories like “Cat Person.”

“They’re dark, they’re funny, they’re irreverent, they’re treading boundaries, and they’re very different to one another,” she said. “They’re occupying a similar space in the imagination, but they’re not all about the relationships between men and women.”