These eleven spellbinding stories often focus on Israel s Mizrahi Jews, featuring mothers and children, soldiers and bohemians, lovers and best friends, all searching for their place in the world. In Tikkun, a man crosses paths with his free-spirited ex-girlfriend now a married Orthodox Jew and minutes later barely escapes tragedy. In Brit Milah, a mother travels from Israel to visit her daughter in Canada and is stunned by her grandson s upbringing. A young medic in the Israeli army bends the rules to potentially dangerous consequence in Casualties. After her mom passes away, a teenage girl comes to live with her aunt outside Tel Aviv and has her first experience with unrequited love in Say It Again, Say Something Else. And in the moving title story, two estranged sisters one whose marriage is ending, the other whose relationship is just beginning try to recapture the close bond they had as kids.
Absorbing, tender, and sharply observed, "The Best Place on Earth" infuses moments of sorrow with small moments of grace: a boy composes poetry in a bomb shelter, an old photo helps a girl make sense of her mother s rootless past. Tsabari s voice is gentle yet wise, illuminating the burdens of history, the strength of the heart, and our universal desire to belong.
Praise for "The Best Place on Earth"
It s impossible not to be awestruck by the depth and power rendered in Tsabari s stories. "Elle"
Tsabari creates complex, conflicted, prickly people you'll want to get to know better. "Kirkus Reviews "(starred review)
There s remarkable scope in Ayelet Tsabari s "The Best Place on Earth, " which interweaves stories of discrimination, loss, displacement, sex, death, religion, and a host of other issues. And yet, despite the range of viewpoints and the different facets of Israeli society explored, this is a collection that always stays intensely personal, the broader forces of history moving not merely across nations but within the souls of her beautifully conceived characters. Phil Klay, National Book Award winning author of "Redeployment"
With incredible compassion and a delicate touch, Ayelet Tsabari explores the heartbreak inherent in forming bonds, whether with another person or with a whole country. "The Best Place on Earth, " a complicated love song to Israel, is a sure-footed and stunningly skillful debut. Shelly Oria, author of "New York 1, Tel Aviv 0"
Powerful . . . brilliant . . . These stories . . . depict minorities so skillfully, with such a light and accurate touch. "The Daily Beast"
Highly recommended . . . Compelling and compassionate; Tsabari s stories] speak out from the heart of Israeli society and experiences. . . . The stories of "The Best Place on Earth" leave you wishing they wouldn t end. "The Times of Israel
This short story collection is a fiction debut for Tsabari, but it demonstrates that she is already a talented storyteller. . . . Her writing has an immediacy and power that invites readers into her characters psyches. " Publishers Weekly""
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-18
- Reviewer: Staff
This debut story collection daringly takes on complexities of Israeli life and its diaspora. In “Tikkun,” Lior and Natalie, once a couple, meet by chance on a Jerusalem street at the height of the second intifada. Natalie has since become devoutly Orthodox, forbidden to touch any man besides her husband; “We don’t hug, the space between us thick with past embraces, with a history of touching.” Yet when a terrorist attack occurs, their fate is altered. In “Invisible,” Tsabari gives voice to the often-marginalized members of Israel’s Filipino community in a tender love story. “Brit Milah” pits Reuma, a tradition-minded Yemeni Jewish mother against Ofra, her daughter, who has left the holy land for the cold of Canada and has defied tradition by choosing not to circumcise her son. The title story is the collection’s most ambitious and most successful. When Naomi’s marriage is in crisis, she decides to pay a visit to her sister in Canada, a place where “Vancouver was as blue as Jerusalem was golden.” But rather than being a refuge, as in the past, Naomi must adjust to Carlos, her sister’’s non-Jewish partner, and their own changed dynamic. This story—and the whole collection, for that matter—elegantly navigates the complex themes of sibling bonding, marital infidelity, and religion. Whereas David Grossman and Amos Oz have been adept at writing about a narrow segment of Israeli society, Tsabari’s first collection is rich with many stories from across all of Israel—and beyond. A remarkably assured debut. Agent: David Forrer, Inkwell Management. (Mar.)