Confident, original and humane, these stories are peopled with characters at the crossroads of nationalities, religions and communities: expatriates, travellers, immigrants and locals. The Best Place on Earth illuminates the tenuous connections—forged, frayed, and occasionally destroyed—between cultures, between generations and across the gulf of transformation and loss. In the powerfully affecting opening story, “Tikkun,” a chance meeting between a man and his former lover carries them through near tragedy and into unexpected peace. “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, Ayelet Tsabari explores Israeli history even as she reveals the universality of war, love, heartbreak and hope.
National Magazine Award winner Ayelet Tsabari was named by CBC Books as one of 10 Canadian Writers to Watch in 2013. Ayelet is an Israeli of Yemeni descent; she grew up in Israel, served in the army, and moved to Canada in 1998. The Best Place on Earth was nominated for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.