Read The Best Place on Earth: Stories by Ayelet Tsabari Online


Reminiscent of the early stories of Jhumpha Lahiri and Allegra Goodman, this is an award-winning collection about characters at the crossroads of geography and faith, from a new voice in international fiction.This debut story collection shows the universal longings that diverse cultures share.Travelling from the bustling streets of downtown Jerusalem to the sun-drenched beReminiscent of the early stories of Jhumpha Lahiri and Allegra Goodman, this is an award-winning collection about characters at the crossroads of geography and faith, from a new voice in international fiction.This debut story collection shows the universal longings that diverse cultures share.Travelling from the bustling streets of downtown Jerusalem to the sun-drenched beaches of Tel Aviv to the cold of Canadian wintersThese stories present characters who are all trying to find someone to believe in.In the opening story “Tikkun,” a chance meeting between a man and his wild former lover—now a restrained, Orthodox Jew—sees the couple narrowly avoiding a tragic death, and forever changed by the experience.In “Casualties,” Tsabari shows us one woman’s perspective on Israel’s mandatory military service, and what happens when she begins breaking the rules to serve her own needs.Artists, soldiers, lovers, grandmothers and grandchildren, Christians and Jews and Muslims, struggle to connect across the chasms of faith and identity.Often focusing on the lives of Mizrahi Jews, these stories draw from nationalities as diverse as Russia, India, Ethiopia, Baghdad, and the Philippines....

Title : The Best Place on Earth: Stories
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780812988932
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Best Place on Earth: Stories Reviews

  • Elyse
    2018-11-25 02:46

    Ayelet Tsabari, lives in Canada - writes in English - and is an Israeli Yemenite author. "Tikkun, is the title of the first story, giving a hint as to the theme of the entire collection."Tikkun olam", in Jewish learning, literally means "world repair", which has come to connote social action and social justice. The goal of repair can only be effected by humans, separating what is holy from the created world, thus depriving the physical world of its very other words, returning to a world before disaster and sin. So, when I first saw "Tikkun", as the title for the opening story...I prepared myself for old-style religious stories ( with words of wisdom to decipher). Surprise, surprise: these stories are not 'religious-in-nature' at all. These are modern stories centered around the culture of life in Israel today...with immigration themes.....ordinary people... and extraordinary people...( Yemeni, Moroccan, and Iraqi backgrounds)...stories with struggles & conflicts, global stories of courage, hardships,loss, death, loneliness, acceptance, abandonment, coming-of-age, the military service, mothers, fathers, siblings, aunts, friends, lovers, married couples, political dialogues, Jerusalem, the markets, cafes, (Sephardi exotic foods in particular), smoking, the clothing, coffee.... ( lots of nostalgia for me!) ... The smells, energy, temperatures...and my own memories of "The Best Place on Earth".These stories are down to earth....contemporary human complexities -enjoyable effortless reading -beautiful --written with warmth and compassion! Particularly timely! Thank You Random House Publishing, Ayelet Tsabari, and Netgalley

  • Esil
    2018-12-06 22:55

    A very high 4 stars. "The Best Place on Earth" was a great surprise. Ayelet Tsabari grew up in Israel, and her family was of Yemeni descent. She did her military service in Israel, traveled extensively in Europe and Asia, and has since settled in Canada. That background is important because it infuses all of her stories which depict modern life in Israel and the life of dislocated Israelis. The stories are at times set in Israel, conveying the political and cultural complexities of modern life in Israel. Other stories are set outside of Israel -- including Canada -- depicting Israelis who have moved away and their complex relationship with the country they have left. Tsabari has a simple writing style, but her stories are potent -- strongly evoking the emotions of her characters, the feel of the different places and the sense of dislocation that comes from living in different places. It's the kind of fiction I love -- it took me somewhere unfamiliar and made it real through rich stories and strong characters. If you don't naturally gravitate towards short stories, I still strongly recommend The Best Place on Earth. There is something complete and deep about each of these stories. I can't really identify favourites in the collection -- they all worked for me. I really hope that Tsabari has another book in the works because I will definitely read it. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  • Trish
    2018-12-04 22:39

    Israeli fiction has had the effect on me of a loud, rambunctious, youthful group thoughtlessly jostling me aside as they enter a crowded bus. I look at it from under lowered eyes, trying without success not to judge. From my white middle-class American insulation I find the colorful opinions and actions of the Israeli diaspora “just too intense for me.” Gradually, I shuffle aside to accommodate the spirited group, listening without effort. When they eventually get off the bus before I do, there is a space where they were, and the silence feels empty. I was looking forward to being seduced by this collection. The first story, “Tikkun,” threatened my resolve. It slapped me awake, moral nerve endings jangling. What people are these, I ask, reviving my indignity. I think now the story was put first to do just that: these stories are going to rock your world, it seems to be saying, so be prepared to realign your carpenter’s level. All the stories seem to have a Yemeni connection, the characters descendants of Yemeni immigrants to Israel. Lili and Lana in “Say it Again, Say Something Else” are two bruised girls not really ready for the world but trying to act as though they are. In “Casualties” a young military officer plays at hardness, nonchalance, and devil-may-care until the reality in her life calls her cellphone.Two stories in the middle of the collection seemed technically and tonally perfect, gathering the angst and confusion of the culture. “Invisible” features a Filipina caregiver overstaying her visa while caring for an aged grandmother not her own, her distant extended family, and a demobbed soldier who has seen action. In “A Sign of Harmony” a young Israeli in India tries to find a thread of a road that she wants to walk amidst the clamor of cultures.“Below Sea Level” angles a selfish youth mentality to reflect into our eyes again, nearly blinding us to the whole human drama that comprises family. And “Borders” reminds us that family is what we make it, after all. These are stories about Israel’s youth, and as such, display youth’s tendencies toward self-absorption, lack of history or responsibility for the future. In each story Tsabari captures a moment in time that is so transitory the characters may never know how it changed them, or how it changed us. If these stories accurately reflect a piece of Israeli experience and culture, they are a bombshell in the midst of more staid (placid?) values, religious or not. The pervasive atmosphere of “why worry about tomorrow” must be a release at the same time it cripples a wider understanding of a world building a future. What kind of future is never even hinted at in this collection, for these characters are not even part of the conversation. What kind of world is this, a place with as much history as the world has to offer, and a blank where future is meant to lie? It leaves us pondering the word “wonderful.”

  • Debbie
    2018-12-08 19:31

    Well, I’ve just been in Israel, with short stopovers in Toronto, British Columbia, and India! But of course, I’ve gone there without leaving my comfy couch. What a fantastic trip! I didn’t have a clue that I wanted to go to Israel, not a clue.I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a stronger sense of place. It’s like the setting is the main character. Funny, I usually couldn’t care less about story location: “Yeah, they’re in the city, oh now they’re in the country, blah blah blah…” It’s character and plot that reel me in (and I’m a big whiner if there is too much description). Here, in this collection of short stories, it’s a totally different deal. In clear, succinct, and unembellished prose, the super skilled writer describes the surroundings—the colors, the smells, the sounds, the climate—so that I felt RIGHT THERE, a tourist, a fly on the wall, taking it all in. She uses beautiful imagery as well; very acid trippy.And this was a wild first for me—I found myself grabbing my phone and googling the towns. I wanted maps, I wanted pictures. I wanted study aids! I wanted food for fantasies! Hell, and this really cracks me up (because I’m pretty sure I’ll never go to Israel, being an ancient scaredy cat with no tolerance for heat): I went to Airbnb and looked at places to rent! Man, were they nice--and they were cheap! I had brief fantasies of vacationing there, knowing in my heart that it would never happen. I just really had to see what the insides of houses looked like.These stories are terrific. They aren’t loud, or full of catastrophes meant to add suspense and shock. Instead, they are stories about relationships, and small but significant “ah ha” moments, as the characters meander through life, trying to figure out their place in the world. Several stories feature Israelis who emigrate to Canada (and in one case, India), and we get to see how they fare after they’ve moved away from their homeland. The author herself is an Israeli of Yemeni descent, and she now lives and teaches college in Canada—so she knows of what she speaks.I just found it all fascinating. Going into this, I didn’t have a special interest in Israel and I didn’t know much about life there. I knew that women, too, have to serve in the armed forces, and I knew there are suicide bombers to worry about. Those facts of life are woven throughout the stories, and both the matter-of-fact-ness and the fear that people there feel are conveyed beautifully. The characters aren’t super heroes or wildly interesting, but instead, they are very realistic and relatable.My only complaint is that there were too many Hebrew words whose meanings I couldn’t figure out. It wasn’t a showstopper, but it was annoying.This book reminded me of another favorite collection of short stories called The Other Language—also strong on setting (most stories are set in Italy) and strong on women struggling in relationships.Bottom line: I always looked forward to picking this book up, and I never looked down at the bottom of the page to find out what percentage I’d read—two telltale signs that I was totally sold. Highly recommend.Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

  • Cathrine ☯️
    2018-11-24 01:47

    4.25★Another superb collection of short stories. It transported me to a different land and culture, much the same as author Jhumpa Lahiri has done in her own works. I find them refreshing and satisfying to read in between my full volume books. Author Shelly Oria describes it perfectly on the book's back cover:"With incredible compassion and a delicate touch, [she] explores the heartbreak inherent in forming bonds, whether with another person or with a whole country...a complicated love song to Israel."

  • Ellie
    2018-11-26 02:36

    What a wonderful collection of short stories! The Best Place on Earth by Ayelet Tsabari, is set primarily in Israel, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and their suburbs. They are stories about the people trying to create lives as we all do, in an ancient, dangerous place.Tsabari offers us moments in her characters' lives, moments that open both back onto their past and forward into their futures. Like all good short stories, these moments are rich and revealing. The characters are all vivid and real.I was drawn to the book by its locale. The title story compares an idyllic town in British Columbia with Jerusalem. Why, Naomi wonders, is her city, dangerous and jagged the best place on earth to her while the peaceful spot in BC feels bland? Maybe our home is always the best place on earth to us-where we were formed, for good and for bad, with all the love and pain that home and family can entail.The first story, Tikkun (a word I love, a concept I love, of acts of kindness done to restore the world to wholeness) tells of two former lovers who meet and compare lives. Like all her stories, the premise is simple but the writing is full of depth. And, like all Tsabari's stories, the story has a third character-Israel, its beauty and its danger.As a New Yorker, I think I have some appreciation of what it means to love a difficult city filled with difficult people. But these cities go beyond New York-in their history as well as in their violence. Tsabari's Israel is fascinating, full of mystery and beauty as well as ugliness and danger. And in these cities, people, like people everywhere, are constructing their ordinary lives, struggling to achieve their own satisfactory lives caught in the web of history and geography.I want to thank NetGalley, Ayelet Tsabari and Random House for the opportunity to read this outstanding book.

  • Anatoly
    2018-11-12 21:44

    A wonderful collection of short stories and a superb writing. The stories themselves touch specific motives that are very typical to Israel such as tradition, the army and immigration to or from Israel, but are still very relevant to readers from other nationalities.

  • Erika Dreifus
    2018-12-03 21:44

    What a wonderful collection of stories. I splurged and bought a copy via; I hope that some U.S. publisher will pick up this book and publish it in this country and help it reach a wider audience (I'd also be curious to see how readers in Israel might respond to it). In any case, I'm glad that I went ahead and got my copy. I'll be eager to read whatever Ayelet Tsabari writes next!

  • Ellis Shuman
    2018-12-14 01:36

    Ayelet Tsabari's stories are compelling and compassionate; they speak out from the heart of Israeli society and experiences.In “Tikkun,” the opening story, two former lovers reunite in a Jerusalem café. Lior immediately notices that Natalie has changed. “‘Dossit,’” she says, completing his sentence and confirming the reason why she is “covering her hair, wearing a skirt down to her ankles and a long-sleeved shirt on a summer day.” Seven years since she became religious, he learns, since right after they broke up and went separate ways.Lior and Natalie had fallen in love during the nineties. “The Gulf War was over, Rabin was elected prime minister and everyone thought peace was possible… Now, more than a decade later, Rabin is dead after being assassinated at a peace really; suicide bombers explode in buses and cafes.”Lior has kept his sanity by avoiding reading the newspapers or watching the news. While taking a walk in Ein Kerem, where he is house sitting for a friend who has gone overseas, he learns there was a pigua in downtown Jerusalem, at the café where he had met with Natalie. She calls, needing to see him one more time after the dreadful news, to make a tikkun by “repairing or correcting past mistakes in order to achieve balance in the world.”Traumatic episodes in recent Israeli history play background to the other stories in the collection as well. In “The Poets in the Kitchen Window”, Iraqi missiles are falling on Tel Aviv. “Borders” takes place in the aftermath of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, when the Sinai peninsula was given back to Egypt. The war in Lebanon is ongoing as the story “Warplanes” unfolds, a time when “black on the front page means many soldiers” have been killed.What really brings Ayelet Tsabari’s stories to life are her characters, people that you rarely meet in Israeli fiction. The story “Invisible” deals with the relationship between a Filipina caregiver and her Yemeni employer Mrs. Haddad, who everyone calls Savta. “Below Sea Level” brings us to the shores of the Dead Sea, where Eitan Sharabi, a fit and tanned retired Israeli officer has taken refuge due to his failing health. And “Casualties” takes us behind the scenes in an Israeli army medical base, where Yael is making ends meet by selling sick leave permissions to other soldiers.The author gives voice to Mizrahi residents of Israel. As Ayelet says in her interview, “The canonical Israeli literature is still very much dominated by Ashkenazi writers who generally depict Ashkenazi stories and characters. It may be changing and improving from when I was a child, but there’s still much to aspire for.” Ayelet’s characters, coming from their Yemeni, Iraqi, and Moroccan backgrounds, are ordinary people, with regular cares, worries, and daily struggles. The reader falls captive to their lives for a short while, and emerges from the experience with a better understanding and acceptance of Israel’s multicultural society.Short stories are most successful when you wish they wouldn’t end. The stories of The Best Place on Earth leave you wishing you could accompany the characters through additional pages and adventures.Highly recommended!

  • Iris P
    2018-11-27 22:39

    Captivating, moving, evocative, sultry...So while I finish my review, here's a sample of Tsabari's gorgeous writing:"They could see the shores of the lake now; hunks of salt floating in the water like misplaced ice floes. His ears popped. The lower they got the deeper his heart sank. Why would his Dad choose to live here? At least in the city there was a crowd one could disappear into, streets and buildings in neat rows, the space organized and contained. The desert had always made David uncomfortable, how wide open and vast it was, its landscape hard and bony, like knuckles on a fist. And there was the silence, and the deadly heat - a monster ready to open its mouth and swallow him whole."From "Below the Sea Level"To be continued...

  • Book Riot Community
    2018-11-24 22:43

    Tsabati has set these eleven emotionally powerful stories all over the world, and filled them with hope, fear, love, loss, and religion. The title story is about two estranged sisters trying to reunite, plus there are stories about a woman's shock at learning about her grandson's upbringing, a man who narrowly avoids catastrophe, a young medic in the Israeli army, and more. Tsabati is being compared to Jhumpa Lahiri, but I must admit I have never read Lahiri, so I cannot confirm that claim. You can let me know!Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books:

  • Alexandra
    2018-12-02 23:51

    "The Best Place on Earth" is an excellent book of short stories about life in Israel. The main characters are all women - some children, some teenagers, some adults, so a nice mix. All of the stories revolve around relationships, among families, friends, and lovers. Each character is complex, and the secondary characters are also rich - not easy to do in a short story. The main focus is on Mizrahi and Yemeni Jews, rather than Ashkenazi Jews (of which much more has been written, at least in English). This focus makes for a fascinating look into cultures that often get short shrift in Jewish and Israeli literature. Many of the stories involve food and customs that Jewish immigrants from Yemen, Iraq and other countries brought with them to Israel, and explore how the characters and their families have retained some of that identity while becoming or growing up Israeli. Another major theme is, what is home? The title story follows two sisters who grew up in Israel, but one left to move to Canada. Each sister has trouble understanding the other's fondness for her home. Tsabari takes us around Israel from Jerusalem to Eilat, and even the Sinai. One of my favorite stories, "Borders," is about the Jewish community that sprung up in Sinai after the Six-Day War, their relationship with the native Bedouins, and how hard it was for the Jews to leave after the Camp David Accords in 1978. In "A Sign of Harmony," an Israeli feels more at home in India than her boyfriend, a Brit of Indian descent.I also appreciated that not all of the main characters were Jewish, and that most of the characters were not Orthodox. One story follows a Filipino caregiver; considering how large Israel's migrant worker community is, it was refreshing to have a story that focused on them and the advantages and disadvantages they face. All of the characters connect with Judaism in different ways.Most of the stories do not directly deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it still looms over the characters and the decisions they make. "Maybe there's something good about knowing it could all end at any minute," one character says to explain why Israelis are so passionate about everything, so ready to dance and drink and be merry. This may explain why Tsabari included so much sex in the book, to show how Israelis react to the prospect of death by making love. I did feel that the sex was gratuitous in some stories, though for others it made sense.Tsabari has created a wonderful and unique portrait of life in Israel. She has shown a different side of Israel - the multicultural, immigrant side - than is often portrayed of Israel, at least in the news. Highly recommend!

  • Mike W
    2018-11-30 01:40

    I remember a time when I was a very young man who had recently moved to Europe and was learning a new language, that I had a rather naïve epiphany about my new Dutch speaking friends: "these people think and talk about the same things that I do!" Ayelet Tsabari's new short story collection, The Best Place on Earth might seem to be about things and people so exclusive as to make wider interest unlikely. A collection about Mizrahi living in or remembering their time in Israel, and even more specifically, Mizrahi of Yemeni descent, may sound daunting to readers like myself who possess little to no knowledge of the people and culture. However, this is a collection that sparks a human connection, and while the culture and the names may be unfamiliar, their angsts and desires are not.Each story in the collection stands alone, but there are themes which tie them together, one having already been mentioned. Another is the onus of mandatory military service to all citizens, another the unique challenges of Mizrahi living among the majority Ashkenazi, another, a sexual energy that permeates many of the stories, and of course there is the ever looming threat of random and terrifying violence. These themes form a framework in which Tsabari's various characters work out their humanity and their problems, universal to the human condition, make their stories both interesting and fascinating.I do not mean to imply that there is not an exotic or "foreign" feel to the American reader, there is. I have never been to Israel but this collection in a sense did take me there. From the smell of the markets, the brands of cigarettes, the colors, the clubs and the feel of vibrant cities who emit an "all night feel" even with danger being ever present. In one story it is theorized that it may be precisely this danger that fuels the vibrancy of the cities, "maybe there's something good about knowing it could all end at any minute." Once cannot help but come away with a new understanding of the place after reading this collection; the understanding that despite the seemingly always violent news we read about the area, there is an energy there, a beauty, that people love and which tugs at those who have left.I should mention that no special knowledge is required to understand the collection. Tsabari deftly guides the reader through the terms and phrases that will be unfamiliar to many readers and manages to do a great deal of teaching about the region within the context of the stories.The Best Place on Earth is a remarkable collection of stories that land all along the spectrum of complex human emotions. Enriching and enlightening, the collection uses a focus on interesting characters set among a relatively tiny group of people in a very small part of the world to reflect our shared humanity; a unique reading experience that is easy to recommend.

  • Owaiz
    2018-12-01 20:44

    Since it’s a collection of short stories, stories that I have loved so much that I have briefly reviewed each story. (Go to the Author's profile and check out the individual stories if you want.)First, how I got here. Israel happens to be the only place on earth with the greatest divide for me. As a child, I grew up knowing Jews were bad people, and the term ‘Yehudi’ was used as a religious profanity; I don’t remember who told me this, but it was sort of understood. Eventually I grew up and ended up an atheist, yet my passport (Pakistani) clearly states it is valid everywhere in the word, except Israel, of course. Freed from the hate, I became fascinated with Israel, except that I couldn’t get in. I looked at the photos on the internet, read on Wikipedia, but it always seemed still; I was blocked, as I still am, probably.Then, one night, the term ‘Jewish Literature’ suddenly came to my mind, and that’s how I found this book. This is the first book falling into the category of Israeli fiction that I read. And I am glad that I ended up finding this book. I didn’t really want to read it, though. I wasn’t sure, so I decided to just take a peek. The first three lines in the first story, Tikkun, immediately drew me in. Written so beautifully that I knew there was no going back. I read the first page thrice, trying to construct that one Jerusalem street in my mind, filling it with people, bringing it to life; and, also, because the writing was so beautiful that I just had to reread, like you would look at a beautiful face over and again, stare at it till you've had enough.I loved each and every story in this book. It showed me a whole new dimension of Israel, somehow bringing Israel to life for me, like Humans of New York page on Facebook does for people. I feel privileged to have read this book, to be able to understand (although I've always believed that already), that Israel is not just a hotbed for fanatics and religious battles. It has people, like everywhere else in the world, fighting battles of their own, living life, facing personal crises, etc. I didn't expect that I'd be able to relate to anything in this book, given I am from Pakistan, but I was able to relate to more than half of the stories. I'd recommend this to everyone, as I already have to some of my friends who I hold in high-regard.

  • Julie
    2018-12-09 21:42

    This book surprised me on how much I liked it, because in the beginning it had interested me, but I had my eyes set on a different collection. But the more I read it, the more I became immersed in the short stories and the characters in them. It became hard to put down, and it was a book where I was torn from trying to devour it in a setting, to trying to savour it.The author is a debut author, which I'm struggling with, because her writing style and ability to create such a full and developed short story was extraordinary - she writes at the level of a season author. The writing alone kept me invested in the book, plus to have such concrete and well rounded characters, along with the plots of the individual stories in the collection, it made for an excellent reading experience. There were a handful of stories in this collection that I wanted more from. They had a full story to them of course, but they were written well enough, that I became invested in the characters and wanted just a little more to see how things had turned out for them. Poets in the Kitchen Window and Invisible, are two examples of this. They were two of my favourites, although I do have more, these two do stand out the most. Casualties and Warplanes also stick out for me, and the first story in the book, Tikkun, was also a very memorable one. From start to finish, this collection captures you, keeps you reading and leaves you wanting more.A fantastic collection of short stories, which I'd highly recommend.Also found on my book review blogJules' Book Reviews - The Best Place on Earth

  • Meghan
    2018-12-08 19:34

    I don’t normally read short story collections but lately have been making a point to include them on my shelf. The first collection I chose was The Best Place on Earth: Stories by Ayelet Tsabari and after the first story I knew I had chosen wisely. This collection mainly takes place in Israel with connections to Canada. It tells the stories of many different characters of Israeli Mizrahi descent: soldiers, lovers, and travelers. The stories are global in scope and refreshing: I don’t think I have ever read a book about Mizrahi Jews.My favourite stories were “Casualties” which was about a young female solider who forged medical leave forms to sell in secret. It was very sexy and also very sad. “The Poets in the Kitchen Window” tells the tale of a young boy in Tel Aviv who wrote poetry during Operation Desert Storm and could never leave home without a gas mask due to the missiles. If you are just starting out with short story collections like I was, The Best Place on Earth: Stories is a great place to start. Exciting and extremely human, these stories will touch you regardless of your background. At the very least, it will be a peek into a world that doesn't have much representation in literature.

  • Annie
    2018-11-28 21:56

    The stories in The Best Place on Earth revolve around themes of tradition, loneliness, and identity. Unlike many stories about the Jewish experience, these ones do not revolve around religious practices in the main. Instead, Tsabari’s stories examine culture. The younger generations are expected to carry on the traditions of their parents and ancestors, but many of the characters in this book are seeking new ways of living. The conflicts come when they break away from their parents’ expectations. It can be lonely to break away, even if one has a partner, because no one can guide a person on their quest to figure out who they are...Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.

  • Moshe Mikanovsky
    2018-11-28 21:46

    If you want to get a glimpse into how Israelis are - read The Best Place on Earth!The stories are beautifully woven, putting you right there between the places, events and people that shaped, and still shaping, Israeli psyche: The first gulf war and Skuds falling all around us, the historic Begin-Saadat handshake at Camp David, the bustling streets and markets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, sabra native Israelis and new immigrants experiences, returning citizen, line 61 which took many of us from Tel Aviv's suburbs (nothing like American suburbs) to Tel Aviv, watching Little House on the Prairie (on our black and white TVs) and so many more!And for Israelis living abroad, especially in Canada, there are so many small and big moments that feels like they were written about us...5 stars through and through!

  • Debra
    2018-11-13 03:44

    I loved this book and was very sad to leave these characters. While I am generally not a huge fan of the short story, these stories are truly captivating. The characters are presented at a crossroads, trying to make sense of their heritage and place in a war torn country. Whether the characters are in Israel or elsewhere, Israel remains in their core. Their stuggles to balance culture, identity and asssimilation is painful and fascinating. Absoultey one of the best books I've read in sometime, and one of the few where I can still feel the presence of the characters. This books makes me yearn to return to Israel and to appreciate the true diversity of this complicated and beautiful country. I cannot wait to read more books from this incredibly talented author.

  • Dhanamusil
    2018-11-16 20:53

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. Through a selection of fictional short stories that read like memoir, the author places us into Israel, through the eyes of her young protagonists. Unflinching in her portrayals of growing up Israeli, the author paints us portraits of characters that resemble a cross section of humanity. We are all, in essence, one. Read this book, you will be a better person because of it.

  • Sasha
    2018-11-13 23:32

    Interesting, charming look into the lives of Mizrachi/Yemeni Israelis, a community that deserves more literary attention.

  • Rachel
    2018-11-28 03:41

    This book was a breath of fresh air! Makes me wish I trekked on over to Canada years as to purchase it, but the US cover is growing on me.Comparing an author to Jhumpa Lahiri (and some sources compared Tsabari to Allegra Goodman) means that she had some very large shoes to fill for me. I could see her effort from the start, in "Tikkun" about old lovers briefly re-connecting before and after a terror attack, "Say it Again, Say Something Else," about a teenage unrequited crush within a heavily Russian and Yemeni neighborhood in greater Tel Aviv, and "Brit Milah," where a traditional Yemeni Israeli mother has to come to terms with how her daughter is raising a family in Toronto. But although engaging, they felt a little too simple, a little too rudimentary.This changed in the middle of the collection, with the story, "The Poets in the Kitchen Window," where a teenage boy grapples with his burgeoning desire to write poetry and his fractured family, amidst the Tel Aviv-area air raids during the Gulf War. Tsbari wove in so many themes, so many wonderful, burning questions for the characters and the readers. Then again with "Casualties," where a careening young twenty-something buries her insecurities amidst promiscuity and workplace fraud while her boyfriend suffers trauma during his army service in Gaza.Tsabari writes primarily about Yemeni and other Mizrahi/middle eastern Jews, a rarely heard perspective in Israeli literature. Many of these characters battle with their pasts in Arab countries, or their realities in "Ashka-normative" (Eastern European Jewish) Israeli society. But often that's about all these characters have in common--they are young, old, male, female, and have various experiences in their individual lives, and opinions about the Jewish homeland. Tsabari also jumped a bit around the country, too--from thriving, urban Tel Aviv to religiously fractured Jerusalem, from the hippies and moshavs of Sinai to the lonely expanse near the Dead Sea.One story, featuring a young Yemeni Israeli woman who looks like a native and is looking for a home, takes place in India...the others that aren't in Israel are all centered in Canada. Tsabari now lives there herself, and I can't help but chuckle, especially after the titular story, "The Best Place on Earth," (Jerusalem or British Columbia?) at the stereotypical differences between Israeli and Canadian societies. Israelis are known for being very brash and aggressive, whereas Canadians are all nice and polite. Talk about a culture clash! In this story, two sisters, who have grown geographically and emotionally different, attempt to find common ground again.My favorite story in the collection is called "Invisible," and an illegal Filipina caretaker is the protagonist. As she worries about her fate in a foreign country, and feels guilty about her daughter back home, she also grows entwined with this Yemeni Israeli family (and friends) with traumas of their own. The title of the story grows especially poignant--years ago, the woman this protagonist is caring for hid from Yemeni Arabs who wanted to tear her away from her family; the story ends with the protagonist hiding from immigration police. Probably my favorite ending of any of Tsbari's stories.Beautiful language, compelling characters and complicated themes. I can see why this won the 2015 Sami Rohr prize; this is short stories done right.

  • Sleepless
    2018-11-27 23:37

    I'm so grateful this book exists. I've never read a more accurate representation of Israel. If you're interested in seeing parts of life here no one talks about, this book is for you. As an Israeli person, I found it easy to sympathize. The struggles and issues portrayed in this book are incredibly relevant still. Religion and modernism, mizrathi and askenazi, the wars, the illegal workers, all of these are throbbing subjects in our culture. Beyond this, I think the author grasps something very real about what Israel is, as single individuals. There's definitely that fire, the passion that some consider rude. People are more blunt. They speak louder. There's more warmth because manners basically aren't a thing. People are nice because they want to and they're assholes because they want to. As most short story collections, some of these stories are incredibly powerful (I loved Tikkun) and some fall short. All of them portray strength, fierceness, pain, and reality. It's such a real collection. The writing is so good. It's easy to read and quick to relate to. I understood the terms because I speak Hebrew but I think they're understandable without too. I highly recommend this. Go ahead, read it! It's important to see more sides to Israel than just everything the news shoves down your throat. While this book isn't 100% positive, it shows part of the complexity of Israel. I do want to point out that I think the discussion about Mizrahi Jews is kind of outdated. I truly feel Israel is merging together. Even now, I know so many people that are a blend of cultures, like I have a friend who's half German and half Yemen. This isn't rare in Israel and I think that's where this country is going. It's not even a "mixed race" thing because we're all Jewish and we're all Israeli and this is more important than wherever our grandparents came from. I don't feel like it's such an important part of day to day life in Israel, or even a crucial subject, next to others. And of course there are Mizrathi poets! This was so annoying! Is the author aware of Ars Poetica? That's basically a celebration of Mizrahi poetry. Roni Somek is just one example, there are plenty of Mizrathi poets.

  • Greta
    2018-11-27 23:35

    I read two stories from this collection and I didn't like it. I had the feeling this was written by a young writer for a young audience. It thought these stories were very superficial, especially the second one. Maybe the other stories are better but I lost interest. Not for me.

  • Maggie Macklin
    2018-11-13 20:53

    I received this ARC from Random House Publishing Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.Lush. This is a word I've often seen used to describe writing but until now never quite understood. Tsabari's collection of short stories is unimaginably lush. I poured over the pages, going back and rereading sentences and paragraphs. savoring them in the hopes that I could capture the emotion forever.We felt like we were part of a generation, and that life had been made just for us and we'd never be sick and never grow old and nothing bad would ever happen to us. -TikkunThese snapshots into the life of Israelis was fascinating, if fictional. I know very little about the Yemini Jews that are the focus of most of these stories but I was inspired to do some research, to learn. These are stories of war.This is my generation's war. A war fought with plastic sheets and duct tape, a wet towel stolen from a hotel room in Eilat, a picture of a sandy beach on a sunny day.-The Poets in the Kitchen WindowThese are stories of longing.Sometimes Israel and the Philippines would blend in her head, overlap, the smell of dusty concrete in August, the outpouring of orange after sunset, the musk of old, musty homes, the ripe stench of the vegetable market. Some nights, like tonight, delighting in the cool fall air, tipsy after an evening among friends.-InvisibleThese are stories of faith and despair.When I still believed in God, I used to make deals with him to bring Dad back. I promised I wouldn't watch TV on Shabbat, mix dairy and meat behind Mom's back, or steal money from her purse. When that didn't work, I offered up Mom. If I had to have one parent, I wanted one who saw me.-WarplanesThese are stories about human frailty.Maybe there's something good about knowing it could all end at any minute.-The Best Place On EarthI have a book hangover and the literary liquor I imbibed over the last week is going to be coursing through my veins for many a sleepless night. Brava, Ms. Tsabari. This is a must read, an objective masterpiece. Five stars.Expected Publication: March 8, 2016

  • Lesia Joukova
    2018-11-25 23:31

    I was provided with a copy of this book by Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group. All of the opinions in this review are my own.If you are looking for a taste of Israel, this is the book you should read. The stories focus on different people that have no connection to one another, but all of them serve as beautiful and truthful illustrations to the life in Israel. It is this combination of truth and beauty that gives "The Best Place on Earth" flavor. In this land a sense of danger is mixed with a sense of peace, and you will feel transferred into the heat of the desert, into the old streets of Jerusalem, smelling the street vendors, feeling the salt on your lips. You will feel the buzzing of Tel Aviv around you as you read, I swear. To me it was like a return to a childhood home, something I didn't realize I longed for until it happened.This is a story of lives lived in uncertainty and war yet after reading you feel at peace, your head is clear and bright... I don't know how she did it but it's so real and pure. It's a worthy addition to any book shelf. Just read it, okay?

  • Sarah
    2018-11-23 00:56

    Beautiful collection of short stories that focus on Israeli life and its citizens and immigrants. Each story was incredibly emotional and often focused on outsiders living in Israel. The author, Tsabari, is Israeli born but has Yemini descent and now lives in Canada, so the stories feel slightly autobiographical. The stories explore a wide range of issues, from religion and its tensions, living in a war-torn area, love and relationships, parenting, adolescence, belonging and heritage, and women's issues. Several stories also have characters that are in or have been in the Israeli army, as Tsabari herself also has a lengthy history of service in it. I felt like I was in the grittiness and life of Israel alongside the well-rounded, lively characters. Looking forward to seeing more of what Tsabari has to offer in the future.

  • Kristin
    2018-12-02 02:54

    Thank you Ayelet Tsabari-- this is the first book I've been compelled to read from beginning to end in too long. Like break-up scares, there were times when I thought about abandoning it because it gets uncomfortable, but I kept going, and it was worth it. That's all I ask-- that dark, terrible, and gross elements in books are not gratuitous, lazy, or bleak, but necessary and formative. The people in this book are real, written with the kind of observation of things that we all experience but haven't before used language to describe that makes great literature. The writing is simple, not overdone or "lyrical." It goes somewhere, and makes the reader go somewhere, and has heart. The kind of writing that transports you entirely into places and hearts that are alive.

  • Diane S ☔
    2018-12-08 02:31

    Another great grouping of short stories, the first story, Tikkan, absolutely blew me away and it kept going from there. Set in Israel these stories feature people coming from other countries in the Middle East and some from even farther away. In one story a group of caregivers have come from the Philippines and are in the country illegally. All are trying to adjust to new countries, new homes, trying to find their place many times among suicide bombers and a country at war. All these stories and their characters are interesting, I think there was only one story I did not care for, and the writing is top notch. Incredibly well done.ARC from Netgalley.

  • Lisa
    2018-12-12 01:34

    These wonderful, hopeful stories cracked open a vibrant new world, exposing an Israel that was unfamiliar to me. I become involved with each of the engaging characters and wanted the stories to go on longer.