WINNER OF THE CANADIAN JEWISH LITERARY AWARD FOR MEMOIR
FINALIST FOR THE HILARY WESTON WRITERS' TRUST PRIZE FOR NONFICTION
An unforgettable memoir about a young woman who tries to outrun loss, but eventually finds a way home.
Ayelet Tsabari was 21 years old the first time she left Tel Aviv with no plans to return. Restless after two turbulent mandatory years in the Israel Defense Forces, Tsabari longed to get away. It was not the never-ending conflict that drove her, but the grief that had shaken the foundations of her home. The loss of Tsabari’s beloved father in years past had left her alienated and exiled within her own large Yemeni family and at odds with her Mizrahi identity. By leaving, she would be free to reinvent herself and to rewrite her own story.
For nearly a decade, Tsabari travelled, through India, Europe, the US and Canada, as though her life might go stagnant without perpetual motion. She moved fast and often because—as in the Intifada—it was safer to keep going than to stand still. Soon the act of leaving—jobs, friends and relationships—came to feel most like home.
But a series of dramatic events forced Tsabari to examine her choices and her feelings of longing and displacement. By periodically returning to Israel, Tsabari began to examine her Jewish-Yemeni background and the Mizrahi identity she had once rejected, as well as unearthing a family history that had been untold for years. What she found resonated deeply with her own immigrant experience and struggles with new motherhood.
Beautifully written, frank and poignant, The Art of Leaving is a courageous coming-of-age story that reflects on identity and belonging and that explores themes of family and home—both inherited and chosen.
WINNER of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature
“Impressive… Brutally honest… Smart, sad and sincere…The characters imagined by Tsabari are achingly human and almost flawlessly fashioned.”
“Stunning… Tsabari creates complex, conflicted, prickly people you’ll want to get to know better.”
“It’s impossible not to be awestruck by the depth and power rendered in Tsabari’s stories—she does so much with so little.”
“Insightful. . . Readers will be moved by Tsabari’s colorful, intimate memoir.”
“Superb. . . . deep in meaning, rich in imagery and continuously engaging.”
“Long after finishing The Art of Leaving, I’m still craving adventure, and still thinking through Tasbari’s nuanced reflections on what it means to be a mother and a wanderer in a world that says women can’t be both.”
“A notable debut…. Issues of assimilation and belonging… are approached here in specific ways that both trouble the underlying cultural conversations and tell moving stories.”
“Ayelet Tsabari’s memoir is a passionate account of the pain, fire and fury of adolescence and young adulthood, the search for a sense of belonging and reconciling the disparate part of our lives and ultimately ourselves.”
“Tsabari’s characters represent the complexities that really define Israel, the differing people jostling one another in this tiny plot of land on the Mediterranean. Their tales are fascinating.”
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New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
WINNER of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for Jewish Fiction
“The Art of Leaving deftly illustrates the ways home can be any or all of the above, simultaneously or at different times in our lives. The book pushes readers to examine their own personal and political histories and to question the ways those histories fit into a bigger, global picture.”
“In The Art of Leaving, Ayelet Tsabari excavates the dark loam of her memory, unearthing treasure after treasure. Her discoveries are nuanced, complex, and beautiful. These essays are timely and urgent, and they’ve been polished ‘til they shine.”
“A well-crafted literary snapshot of love relationships amid shellfire and suicide bomb. Tsabari emerges as a writer to show a new way to look at the world amid the confluence of love and death, sex and survival.”
CBC’s 19 Works of Nonfiction to Check Out in Spring 2019
“Powerful… Brilliant… The stories depict minorities so skillfully, with such a light and accurate touch.”
“The Art of Leaving is, in large part, about what is passed down to us, and how we react to whatever it is. . . . [It] is not self-help—we cannot become whatever we put our mind to—yet it suggests that we can begin to heal from what has broken us, if we only let ourselves. . . . Tsabari’s intense prose gave me pause.”
“Ayelet Tsabari has written a beautiful, complex and emotionally breathtaking memoir. . . . The Art of Leaving is a marvel of a book, at once tender and fearless, from a writer at the peak of her creative powers.”
Kirkus Review Best Fiction of 2016
“Warm, intimate, and humane.”
“Candid, affecting . . . [Ayelet Tsabari’s] linked essays cohere into a tender, moving memoir.”
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“The best place on Earth is wherever you are reading Ayelet Tsabari’s debut short story collection. Filled with vivid characters and compelling storytelling.”
“Compassionate, compelling… Her stories speak out from from the heart of Israeli society and experiences. The stories of The Best Place on Earth leave you wishing they wouldn’t end. Highly recommended.”
Paste Magazine’s Most Anticipated Essay Collections of 2019
“Tsabari is in prime form, capturing in mercilessly precise prose hard-to-do-justice-to feelings. . . . This is a writer who is capable of holding your throbbing heart in one hand while pressing the tip of her pen to your jugular with the other.”
“Told in a series of fierce, unflinching essays . . . an Israeli Canadian author explores her upbringing and the death of her father in this stark, beautiful memoir.”
“Ayelet Tsabari is a fierce-tender writer. Her work is an enchanting mix of vivid anecdote and vigorous insight—spanning generations and geographies, glittering with humour and heart.”
Praise for The Best Place on Earth
LONGLISTED for The Frank O’Conner International Short Story Award
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“The Art of Leaving will take you on an emotional journey you won’t soon forget.”