Short Story Goes Viral, Brings Debut Author Seven Figure Deal

“Margot met Robert on a Wednesday night toward the end of her fall semester. She was working behind the concession stand at the artsy movie theatre downtown when he came in and bought a large popcorn and a box of Red Vines.”

So begins a short story by Kristen Roupenian that was recently published in the New Yorker and quickly went viral, leading to a seven figure book deal for its new author.

“Cat Person” was published in the December 11th edition of the New Yorker and almost overnight became the magazine’s top read story of the year. Roupenian’s debut book, a short story collection to be called “You Know You Want This” will be published in 2019 by Scout Press. From The New York Times:

The collection, “You Know You Want This,” is the first of a two-book deal that includes an untitled novel that was acquired by Alison Callahan, the vice president and executive editor at Scout Press, from Jenni Ferrari-Adler at Union Literary.

It is almost as unusual for a collection of short stories to earn such a high sum on the market as it is for a single story to receive the attention that “Cat Person” did. Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker’s fiction editor, said of the reaction to the story, “We have not seen anything like that with fiction.”

She said in an interview on Wednesday that when she first read the story, which kicked off conversations about gender relations, power and consent, “I cringed just like everyone else.”

Despite having become something of an overnight sensation, Roupenian has done the work to get there:

Ms. Roupenian, 36, committed to writing full time about five years ago after spending her early adulthood in the Peace Corps and worked as a teacher’s aide, a bookstore cashier and a nanny before receiving her doctorate in English from Harvard. She recently completed a master’s degree at the University of Michigan and is currently on a writing fellowship there.

You can read the full story here.  Read “Cat Person” here.

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