It’s safe to say that when Kristen Roupenian wrote Cat Person she did not expect it to end up trending on Twitter and in global news outlets, or that its publication in The New Yorker might be rapidly followed by her signing a million-dollar deal for a short-story collection. Short story writers have learned not to expect anything by way of worldly fame and success. By breaking out into the wider cultural sphere, the story has prompted widespread debate about how we value literature and how we read it.
The success of Cat Person is of course bound up with its subject matter; the portrayal of a young woman, Margot, and how she is forced to negotiate the seemingly unpleasant behaviour of Robert, a man she dates. The story sparked passionate debate among readers, elevating it beyond the ghetto of short fiction to global conversations about gender, sex, violence and power.