Cat Person

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"Cat Person"
AuthorKristen Roupenian
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Genre(s)Fiction
Published inThe New Yorker
Publication dateDecember 2017

"Cat Person" is a short story by Kristen Roupenian. It was published in December 2017, in The New Yorker and went viral online.[1][2]

Synopsis[edit]

The story follows the brief relationship of Margot, a twenty-year-old sophomore college student, and Robert, an older man who is a regular at the movie theater where Margot works. After an exchange at the concession stand, he asks for her number, and they carry on extensive conversations through texts. Margot finds Robert witty and funny through text, and their conversations grow frequent, but he is more awkward and inscrutable when she tries to see him in person.

When Margot returns from visiting home for winter break, she and Robert go on a real date: they see a movie, go to a bar (during which Robert learns her age), and then return to Robert’s home. Despite being disappointed and uncomfortable during the date, Margot consents to sex with Robert rather than navigate turning him down. After the encounter, which largely disgusts her, Margot learns that Robert is thirty-four years old and reflects that their conversations have been impersonal.

Margot resolves to tell Robert she isn’t interested in continuing to see him, but ignores his messages while she is unsure of how to do it politely but firmly. She eventually does so abruptly through text at the urging of her roommate. A month later, she sees Robert while out at a bar with her friends; she is unsettled by the idea that he is looking for her and avoids him. That night, he texts her repeatedly, his messages at first complimentary and insecure but becoming more needy and belligerent as Margot does not reply, ending with calling her "Whore."

Reception[edit]

The BBC described the short story as "being shared widely online as social media users discuss how much it relates to modern day dating".[3] The Washington Post describes it as unique among the content in The New Yorker, because it resonated with a younger audience commenting, "for one of the first times, something in the magazine seemed to capture the experience not of print-oriented, older intellectuals but of Millennials."[4] The story is the year's most downloaded fiction published in The New Yorker, and also one of the most read pieces overall of 2017. The Atlantic notes that "The depiction of uncomfortable romance in 'Cat Person' seems to resonate with countless women," and describes it as a "literary adjunct to the latest #MeToo moment."[5] Personal reactions have been largely, but not entirely, along gender lines (roughly akin to those to Jane Austen),[6] and for many readers, it captures what it is like to be a woman in her twenties in 2017, including "the desperate need to be considered polite and nice at all costs."[7]

Following the story's success, Roupenian secured a seven figure deal with Scout Press for her debut book, and was the subject of a bidding war in the American market, with offers exceeding $1m.[8] She received a $1.2 million advance for her 2019 book You Know You Want This, an anthology series which includes Cat Person.[9]

Further reading[edit]

  • Roupenian, Kristen (2019-01-10). "What It Felt Like When "Cat Person" Went Viral". The New Yorker.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Garber, Megan (11 December 2017). "'Cat Person' and the Impulse to Undermine Women's Fiction". The Atlantic. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  2. ^ Bromwich, Jonah (11 December 2017). "'Cat Person' in The New Yorker: A Discussion With the Author". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  3. ^ Sini, Rozina (11 December 2017). "Cat Person: The short story people are talking about". BBC. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  4. ^ Roberts, Molly (11 December 2017). "'Cat Person' is a next step in the #MeToo movement". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  5. ^ KHAZAN, OLGA (2017-12-11). "A Viral Short Story for the #MeToo Moment: The depiction of uncomfortable romance in "Cat Person" seems to resonate with countless women". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  6. ^ Welsh, Kaite (2017-12-12). "Cat Person is 'mundane', Austen is 'dross': why do so many men hate female writing?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  7. ^ Grady, Constance (2017-12-12). "The uproar over the New Yorker short story 'Cat Person,' explained". Vox. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  8. ^ "Cat Person author Kristen Roupenian lands seven-figure US book deal". The Guardian. 20 December 2017.
  9. ^ Brockes, Emma (2019-01-26). "Cat Person author Kristen Roupenian: 'Dating is caught up in ego, power and control'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-01-26.

External links[edit]