Confident, original and humane, the stories in The Best Place on Earth are peopled with characters at the crossroads of nationalities, religions and communities: expatriates, travellers, immigrants and locals.
In the powerfully affecting opening story, “Tikkun,” achance meeting between a man and his former lover carries them through near tragedy and into unexpected peace. In “Casualties,” Tsabari takes us into the military—a world every Israeli knows all too well—with a brusque, sexy young female soldier who forges medical leave forms to make ends meet. Poets, soldiers, siblings and dissenters, the protagonists here are mostly Israelis of Mizrahi background (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent), whose stories have rarely been told in literature. In illustrating the lives of those whose identities swing from fiercely patriotic to powerfully global, The Best Place on Earth explores Israeli history as it illuminates the tenuous connections—forged, frayed and occasionally destroyed—between cultures, between generations and across the gulf of transformation and loss.
WINNER OF THE SAMI ROHR PRIZE FOR JEWISH LITERATURE
Longlisted for The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award
“Remarkable. . . . A potent examination of the quotidian devastation wreaked by continuous bombings in the city. . . . Tsabari writes with a clear yet compassionate eye about characters attempting to wrest meaningful lives out of an environment that strongly opposes them.” —The National Post
“Powerful. . . . Brilliant. . . . The stories depict minorities so skillfully, with such a light and accurate touch.” —The Daily Beast
“The Best Place on Earth is a book to begin an informed discussion of the social differences between Middle East and modern west, a well-crafted literary snapshot of love relationships amid shellfire and suicide bomb, and a frequent challenge to one’s moral sense of what is and what should be.” —Vancouver Sun
“Impressive. . . . Brutally honest. . . . Smart, sad and sincere. . . . The characters imagined by Tsabari are achingly human and almost flawlessly fashioned.” —Winnipeg Free Press
“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. . . . Tsabari’s characters will step off the page to captivate readers.” —Publishers Weekly
“Penetrating. . . . The author (possesses) superior skill at excavating the internal and external conflicts encountered by her characters.” —Quill and Quire
“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.” —The Toronto Star
“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.” —The Globe and Mail
“Tsabari’s stories pulse with raw energy as they unfurl along the fault lines within modern Israeli society. The compelling urgency of this collection reflects the multi-faceted culture it brings to life; its quiet wisdom speaks to the universality of the hopes and conflicts it depicts.” —Nancy Richler, author of The Imposter Bride