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The Discourse

Everyone is Freaking Out About the “Kidney Person” Story

You just never know what you’re going to get when an over-5,000 word story from the New York Times goes viral. This morning, media workers everywhere were aghast to read “Who Is the Bad Art Friend?” a classic tale of kidney donation, fiction writing, and white women needing to take up as much space as humanly possible. Even “Little Fires Everywhere” author Celeste Ng is in the mix!

Here’s the TL:DR: Massachusetts writer Dawn Dorland donated her kidney to someone in need in 2015. Later, one of her fellow writers in a Grub Street workshop, Sonya Larson wrote a story about a woman who donates her kidney. Larson, a woman of color, admitted she was sparked by Dorland’s public discussion of the donation on social media. Dorland, however, felt plagiarized and filed suit. Both women are kind of in the wrong, but also the situation is a little bit ridiculous in general, and it’s hard to know what to take away from a story like this. In the words of one NYT commenter, the kidney story is: “a rare story where I found myself rooting for absolutely no one.”

Queer writer Roxane Gay perhaps summed it up best:

Too much time and too much money!

It didn’t take long for other writers to pile on. Because we live for an absurd story about ridiculous people.

What’s funnier: performing “selflessness” or believing there’s such a thing as a selfless act to begin with?

Some users were especially astute, picking up on the fact that Dorland seems to be upset for not getting enough praise for her donation:

Now we’re all officially obsessed:

Perhaps New Yorker critic Helen Rosner put it best when she termed the story “Kidney Person,” a nod to the recent controversy over Kristen Roupenian’s viral 2017 story “Cat Person.”

Let’s face it, we’re all hideous narcissists stealing each others’ life milestones for COPY!

But also, this is very much a story about a white lady being un-self-aware. Classic!

Thanks for the laughs, Kidney Person. We needed them.

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