I went to the NYC Mid-Manhattan Library on Monday, February 25, 2019 and heard Kristen Roupenian (Kenya 2003-05) read from her new collection of short stories You Know You Want This, and be interviewed by Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker’s fiction editor. About eighty-five people crowded into the library room for the reading and discussion. The majority were women in their twenties. Kristen was entertaining and informative and appreciated by all as she told of her journey to ‘overnight’ success with the publication of “Cat Person” that appeared in the December 2017 issue of The New Yorker. A short story that quickly became an internet sensation. Ms. Treisman said that the story has the second highest ‘hits’ of New Yorker articles over the last five years on the magazine’s internet site.
The short story centers on a young woman’s experience dating in a sleepy college town, but with decidedly skin-crawling twists. Kristen’s short stories explore the ways in which women are horrifying as much as it captures the horrors that are done to them. Spanning a range of topics and genres, it is darkly funny, delightfully cringeworthy, and compulsively readable. They are stories, however, not for everyone as Kristen quickly admits.
Kristen Roupenian graduated from Barnard and joined the Peace Corps. Going overseas, and coming from a medical family. Her father is a doctor and she was thinking of a career in international health, but as she said, it became obvious to her in Kenya that that path was beyond her.
She came home to study, and earn her PhD in African Literature from Harvard. Next she was a Zell Fellow in the University of Michigan MFA program, and since then has received numerous awards for her writing.
You Know You Want This: “Cat Person” and Other Stories
Kristen Roupenian (Kenya 2003–05)
$24.99 (paperback), $12.99 (Kindle)