> Skip to content
  • Published: 18 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9781784709204
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $19.99

Cat Person and Other Stories

From the author of the global sensation Cat Person comes Cat Person and Other Stories, a compulsive short story collection about sex, dating and modern life that will thrill you before it chills you.

'It's a new literary genre... Supernatural horror meets bedroom politics' Sunday Times

'If you enjoyed Cat Person, this is for you' Evening Standard

These are stories of women's lives now. They also happen to be horror stories. In some, women endure the horror. In others, they inflict it.

Here are women at work, at home, on dates, at the doctor's, with their families and with their friends. Here are women grappling with desire, punishment, guilt and anger. These are stories to make you feel fascinated but repelled, scared but delighted, revolted but aroused.

Previously published as You Know You Want This

  • Published: 18 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9781784709204
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Kristen Roupenian

Kristen Roupenian graduated from Barnard and holds a PhD in African Literature from Harvard. She is a Zell Fellow in the University of Michigan MFA program, and has received numerous awards for her work. She has studied with Laura Kasischke, Jeff Van der Meer and Claire Vaye Watkins.Her short story 'Cat Person' became a viral sensation when it was published by the New Yorker at the end of 2017, dubbed ‘the most talked-about short story ever’. You Know You Want This is her first book.

Also by Kristen Roupenian

See all

Praise for Cat Person and Other Stories

I kept getting lured into another and another [of the stories]… [Kristen Roupenian has] one of those brains that feel out-of-this-world brilliant and also completely askew… What’s special about Cat Person, and the rest of the stories in You Know You Want This is the author’s expert control of language, character, story — her ability to write stories that feel told, and yet so unpretentious and accessible that we think they must be true.

Lauren Holmes, New York Times

You Know You Want This at once enchants and horrifies… [Roupenian’s] writing recalls the gloomy feminist fairy-tales of Angela Carter. This collection cements her reputation as one of the most startling new voices in fiction.


Roupenian is in possession of [a] formidable talent… the inner worlds of her narrators are always lifelike. She allows us to embody these characters wholly which is always an unsettling journey… [You Know You Want This] will leave you gasping.

Sophie White, Irish Independent

It’s only a matter of time before you find yourself thumping someone’s dinner table vigorously as you discuss [You Know You Want This]… Roupenian’s latest tales are sexy, chilling and disturbingly gruesome in finest fairytale tradition… Think Delta of Venus meets Angela Carter meets Bridesmaids.

Harriet Walker, The Times

Wholly engrossing.

Hayley Maitland, Vogue

Looking at modern gender and power dynamics, these uncomfortable tales are frequently (understandably) dark – and sometimes horrific – but equally often there is sheer relief at hearing someone brilliantly articulate those itchy-scratchy ‘Is it just me?’ irritations and neuroses… [You Know You Want This] may not be an easy read, but it’s an original one.


A scintillating new debut collection, with a glorious revenge comedy at its center… [Roupenian] proves astonishingly deft at depicting the warped psychology of romantic entanglement, and finding the black humor in it.

Laura Collins-Hughes, Boston Globe

Roupenian is a horror writer, bone-deep and red-blooded. Her horrors, like the horrors of Shirley Jackson or Janet Frame, are grounded in sharp emotional veracity... Roupenian bites unsparingly into the darkest chambers of the human heart.

Sarah Ditum, New Statesman

[Roupenian's] writing here is sharp and pitiless, and... makes Cat Person look tame... toe-curlingly nasty at times, [You Know You Want This owes] more to writers such as Shirley Jackson and Joyce Carol Oates than to the new wave of post#MeToo fem-lit.

Katie Law, Evening Standard

Kristen Roupenian isn’t just an uncannily great writer, she also knows things about the human psyche—things that I always supposed I would learn at some point, but never did. Some of these things are about men’s minds in particular and I’m pretty sure she’s right. The world has made a lot more sense since reading this book.

Miranda July

If you think you know what this collection will be like, you’re wrong. These stories are sharp and perverse, dark and bizarre, unrelenting and utterly bananas. I love them so, so much.

Carmen Maria Machado

Roupenian offers an audacious take on human relations in all their awkward and weird glory, putting some of these stories in mind of Curtis Sittenfeld or even, on occasion, Sally Rooney. There's no doubt that Roupenian is a wellspring of original ideas… And if Roupenian can continue to mine the heart of darkness with the same sort of daring, her future as one of our great literary truth-tellers could very well materialise.

Tanya Sweeney, Irish Independent

[There's] a huge amount of variety in You Know You Want This. Magical realism rubs up against full fantasy, narrative formats chop and change, the first and third person are used with equal and impressive skill… This is a highly accomplished collection.

Holly Baxter, Independent

I found the stories exceptionally compelling; I love the way they create a world that is both familiar and deeply unsettling, showing – in strange and surprising ways – the interplay of disgust, fear and desire. Images from the book keep coming back to me: its narratives feel both mythical and completely modern.

Megan Hunter

In an age that needs a wrecking ball, You Know You Want This provides one. This is a raucous, visceral page-turner that tunnels into the heart of relationships gone awry, modern-day miscommunications, and other horrors of being human. Not polite. Suffers no fools. Takes no prisoners. Read it.

Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times bestselling author

These transgressive and darkly electric stories announce the arrival of a bold, new, necessary voice in American short fiction.

Claire Vaye Watkins

The 11 new stories [in You Know You Want This] are equally compulsive, equally repellent [as Cat Person]. You’ll be left longing for the bygone days of courtship.

Hephzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday *The Best New Fiction*

The stories in You Know You Want This are wildly strange and deeply human. When it comes to the secret hurt and twisted desires that lurk in seemingly mundane encounters between men and women, Kristen Roupenian is a super genius. I loved every single word of this freaky, fantastic book.

Julie Buntin

In Roupenian’s debut, You Know You Want This, she establishes herself as a raucous and bloodthirsty storyteller… She slathers even the most innocuous pastoral imagery with erotic Baudelairean macabre… it’ll have you covering your eyes and reading through your fingers.

Tony Tulathimutte, New Republic

It's a new literary genre. Preorder You Know You Want This, the eagerly awaited short-story collection from Cat Person author Kristen Roupenian. Supernatural horror meets bedroom politics.

Laura Atkinson, Sunday Times Style

[Roupenian's] writing exists in that nebulous dimension just before desire turns into repulsion. It hits a pinpoint target of an unspeakable discomfort. Seen one way, it’s a relief to have recognition; in another, like the title itself, it’s an indictment.

Elle Magazine

It's unheard of for a short story to go viral, but Cat Person – through a combination of impossibly sharp writing and impossibly good timing – had done it. A year later, Roupenian's debut collection proves that [Cat Person's] success wasn't a fluke. The 12 visceral stories here range from uncomfortable to truly horrifying and are often – though not always – focused on the vicious contradictions of being female… Unsettling, memorable, and – maybe perversely – very, very fun.

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Moments of startling insight into the hidden – and often uncomfortable – truths underneath modern relationships… there are some stellar moments of pithy clarity: In 'Scarred,' upon summoning a way to cheat desire, the protagonist muses, ‘I had everything that could be wanted. I invented new needs just to satisfy.’ This is a promising debut.

Publishers Weekly

Roupenian’s tales from the frontline of modern relationships are perfect for an alternative Valentine’s Day display.


A collection of short stories which cover the same murky waters of attraction as "Cat Person".

Olivia Ovenden, Harper's Bazaar, The books we can't wait to read in 2019

There is always some anxiety following such a short, steep rise to recognition, but in this collection Roupenian lives up to those high expectations. The stories are wonderfully varied in execution, from realist to surreal, staying fresh while circling one primary concern: how men and women relate to one another, and how often that relationship can go wrong.

Vanity Fair

[A] sharp, powerful and uncomfortable debut collection of stories[Roupenian] is always in narrative control.

Kathryn Maris, Times Literary Supplement

Abrasive, painfully aware accounts of relationships in turmoil… You know you want this collection.

Sarah Gilmartin, Irish Times

You Know You Want This seems to touch on conversations that the country has yet to have — often using horror and magical realism to illuminate the darker corners of our world.

Elisabeth Garber-Paul, Rolling Stone

In Look at Your Game, Girl and The Boy in the Pool, naïve female desire is so brilliantly and lushly evoked… [Biter] shows a flair for satire and comic timing… I look forward to Roupenian’s next book.

Nicole Flattery, Guardian Weekly

The best fiction leaves us thinking about it long after turning the last page, and with [Cat Person], author Kristen Roupenian established herself as a writer to watch. Her short-story collection, You Know You Want This, includes that story and others, all of which will have you talking about them long after finishing.


In her highly anticipated debut collection, the author behind the viral Cat Person story offers up a host of strange, fascinating, and downright delightful narratives you won't be able to stop talking about. Spanning a range of genres and topics, it is equal parts dark, uncomfortable, and funny.


Readers who are looking for more uncomfortably realistic renderings of awkward romantic encounters won’t be disappointed, but this collection is so much more than that, offering an array of biting (sometimes literally!) looks at the ways our most hidden perversions manifest in our lives. It’s a razor-sharp, often ruthless, never less than relentless examination of the way we are now. Scary, right? But you know you want it.


[You Know You Want This captures] the torturous and complicated justifications for untoward behaviour in the search for closeness and connection.

Eithne Farry, Daily Mail

What unites the collection is less her [Roupenian’s] gender politics than her interest in the way fantasies become distorted, disappointing, even dangerous when they approach reality… narrative twist[s] changes the direction of a story and leads it somewhere new. Roupenian’s desire to have her moral and reject it too could be said to put a twist on the twist.

Lauren Oyler, London Review of Books

Roupenian remains rooted in realism, she gives pause by exposing the sinister side of sexuality, and one looks forward to seeing what she might accomplish with the novel form.

Mia Levitin, Financial Times

Kristen Roupenian's debut short stories fulfil all expectations… she infuses mundane reality with a thrilling layer of menace.

Emily Rhodes, Spectator

Kristen Roupenian's debut short stories fulfil all expectations… she infuses mundane reality with a thrilling layer of menace.

Emily Rhodes, Spectator

One of the most anticipated story collections of the year.


Violence, cruelty or misunderstanding are never far away in these 12 stories, which are by turns, unsettling, ruthless and often funny.

UK Press Syndication

Walker’s laconic, Hemingway-esque prose style perfectly complements his low-key approach to his material: the matter-of-fact tone in which he recalls his most horrific experiences in Iraq makes them seem all the more horrible. It works equally well with deadpan humour.

Jake Kerridge, Sunday Times

Roupenian is a wizard of provocative, psychological fiction, exploring the dark side of the human psyche. Each of her short stories is terrifyingly relatable, making the reader fear something much more relevant than more supernatural horror stories.

The Mancunion

A fascinating and repugnant series of stories, all tremendous examples of what this unsung hero of a literary form can do.

Culture Calling

Roupenian’s wildly discomfiting new collection, You Know You Want This… is often wonderfully, if grotesquely, physical… This book isn’t bedtime reading.

Ruth Franklin, New York Review of Books

These are stories that make you feel fascinated but repelled, scared but delighted, revolted but aroused.


You Know You Want This is an alarming but compelling book. Roupenian’s short stories, weaving together science fiction, confession and fantasy, are like infections spreading across the senses, blocking out everything except the compulsion to read on… Roupenian achieves something few other writers have: providing a balanced reflection on a very difficult subject.

Ella Whelan, Spiked

Related titles