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2023 - Winner
Women I Know is an exhilarating collection of stories that indeed ‘unpicks the stitches of gender and genre’, as it proclaims. Each story does so through a dazzling display of shifting perspectives, voices and forms. Gibson’s collection moves from realist character-based stories to compelling surreal worlds, to scripted dialogue, to food reviews and the stop-start beginnings of failed stories, in its array of inventive story forms.
Each story is distinctive in its choice of genre and form to explore a particular facet of gender: the ecologist who is chosen because of her father’s reputation, the non-vegan lover of an inflexible vegan, the abrasive grandmother–granddaughter relationship upon whose periphery the family is imploding. Women I Know explores with wit, style and audacious intelligence all the variables of experience, desire, moral dilemma, care and intention of contemporary women, who read as fully alive, if seldom fully in charge of the worlds in which they exist.
At the core of each story is a cri de cœur against systems – fossil fuel capitalism, gender and class hierarchies – that brutalise not only the lives of women but of worlds. Dark humour unsettles absurdly recognisable situations: the executive mum who has to schedules time to worry about her daughter’s anorexia, the woman who is erased and replaced by another version of herself, without anyone noticing. Beautifully imagined and filled with arresting imagery, Women I Know offers brilliantly disquieting insights and metaphors for our here and now.