THE CRITERIA by Kami Westhoff
The Criteria explores unconventional, and at times highly problematic, motherhood. The characters struggle with impossible choices that often lead to heartbreaking behaviors. In the titular story, the main character takes on the burden of breastfeeding infants whose mothers have fallen in while at the same time struggling with the fate of her own infant. Another story imagines a scenario in which the mother/child bond is prohibited, and drastic measures taken to ensure its prevention. The characters are asked to suffer many tragedies, as well as to embrace hope in the most unlikely places.
Publication Date: 5/31/2022
Praise for Kami Westhoff
Poetic and corporeal, The Criteria is a collection steeped in brutality and resilience. Westhoff’s prose is as deeply unsettling as it is starkly beautiful—these stories are complex, haunting, and lush.
--Kimberly King Parsons
The world of Kami Westhoff’s stories is skewed from ours - more visceral, brutal, harder - but also oddly quieter. That the women and children and men there survive what they do is, I guess, a testament to their resilience. But whatever it is, it’s a warning to us to rein in our easy violence, to try to remember love.
--Rebecca Brown, author of You Tell the Stories You Need to Believe
The Criteria is about the complicated work of caring (and sometimes failing to care)—for mothers, for children, for the planet--and the book is itself an act of care. Kami Westhoff welcomes her reader with generosity into quiet, secret spaces of love, longing, pain and, ultimately, connection.
—Ramona Ausubel, author of Awayland and Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty