Women I Know

Katerina Gibson

Women I Know
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Women I Know

Katerina Gibson

Unpicking the stitches of gender and genre, the stories in this searing, funny, haunting debut explore how our ideas of womanhood shape us, and what they cost us.

‘My God darling - the women I know.’

A young woman tries to cheat her algorithm, creating a wholesome online persona while her ‘real’ life dissipates. A grandmother speaks to her granddaughter through the fog of generations. Two lovers divide over alternative meat options. A factory worker fits eyes in companion dolls until she is called on to install her own.

The women I know are sharp, absurd, sly, wrong, wry, repressed, hungry, horny, bold, envious, dominating, uncertain, overdetermined, underpaid, bored, smart, crystalizing, themselves.

A burning talent with growing international recognition, Katerina Gibson’s work has appeared in Granta, Kill Your Darlings, Overland and elsewhere. She is the Pacific regional winner of the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and recipient of the Felix Meyer Scholarship.

‘Smart, gleeful, savage, funny and genuinely brilliant. I kept wanting to cry out with joy! Katerina Gibson is a superstar.’ Miles Allison, author of In Moonland and Fever of Animals

Review

I was incredibly excited and not at all surprised to learn that Melbourne author Katerina Gibson would be releasing their debut book, Women I Know, this year. Their work has appeared in literary journals The Lifted Brow, Meanjin and Granta – to name a few – as well as in the 2020 New Australian Fiction anthology from Kill Your Darlings. They have never disappointed in their goal to be a fresh, honest and original voice in Australian fiction. Women I Know is no different. This time, we are treated to 17 short stories, ranging widely in form and. subject matter, but ultimately all paying homage to the women in our lives.

Gibson has a way of casually inviting us into the lives of their characters, making us feel as if we have known them all along, as if they were our friends: we feel their trepidation as they approach a handsome man on the beach; we share their loneliness when they become absorbed in their social media persona. It is so easy, and at times uncomfortably difficult, to see ourselves and the women we know in these pages.

All too often in fiction, readers are presented with two stereotypes of women, two extreme opposite ends of the spectrum – we have the perfect, put-together, ‘not-like-other-girls’ woman; and then we have the subversive, crass, ‘hot mess’ of a woman whose characterisation is intended to act as a foil to the former. Both caricatures severely do women a disservice in presenting them as two-dimensional, definable and in service of something other than themselves. Gibson has a talent for presenting women in all their forms – witty, intelligent, sexual, queer, lonely, self- conscious, bold, tired, and on and on.

Gibson’s writing is brutally honest, haunting and a breath of fresh air. They are truly a welcome voice in Australian fiction, and I cannot wait to see their genius shared with the world.


Melissa Barillaro is from Readings online.

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