Women I Know by Katerina Gibson
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.