Jonathan Cape has scooped the debut book from Kristen Roupenian, the author of 'Cat Person', a short story published in the New Yorker this week which went viral and triggered a wave of media coverage.
Michal Shavit, Cape’s publishing director, pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights for a short story collection, You Know You Want This, in a deal struck with Emma Paterson at Rogers, Coleridge and White on behalf of Jenni Ferrari-Adler at Union Literary.
The seven-story collection was snapped up as part of a high five-figure deal, The Bookseller understands, and was pre-empted following “significant interest” from other publishers.
Roupenian’s “excruciating bad-date story”, ‘Cat Person’, went viral after being published on the New Yorker website on Saturday (9th December). It follows a student Margot who goes on a date with an older man, Robert, and has sex with him, after which he continues to text her.
Shavit revealed Cape was "hugely excited" to be "launching this phenomenal new voice".
She told The Bookseller: "This book marks the arrival of a remarkable new talent. The cultural discourse that has revolved around ‘Cat Person’ has been astonishing, a talking point around the globe. But it’s in the writing that the really interesting thing is happening.
"This is going to be a major publishing event in the coming year and we’re hugely excited and proud to be launching this phenomenal new voice."
The author, who has not previously published a book, is a Zell Fellow at the University of Michigan, and won the Grand Prize winning story for the Eleventh Annual Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards last year. The 36-year-old only committed to writing five years ago, according to the New York Times.
'Cat Person' was inspired by one of Roupenian’s own dating experiences and went on to be one of the most-read pieces of fiction on the magazine's website all year as well as one of its most-read overall pieces. The New Yorker's fiction editor Deborah Treisman said the magazine had timed the publication of the story to capitalise on the discussions around sexual harassment, prompted by the numerous allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Hours after the story was published on the New Yorker website, the writer tweeted: "I don't really know how to do justice to the conversation that is happening around my story but I am grateful for it."
Roupenian revealed in an interview with Treisman, which accompanied the story, that she has been “putting the finishing touches on a short-story collection” and also working on a novel. Her US agent, Ferrari-Adler, also tweeted out a link mentioning the forthcoming collection.
Shavit, who joined Cape in 2015, was recently selected as one of The Bookseller 100. Formerly Harvill Secker editorial director, she has continued Cape’s association with Salman Rushdie and Julian Barnes as well as signing up a memoir from Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker.