The Best Place On Earth

by Ayelet Tsabari

Book, 2013



Call number




Harper Perennial (2015), 240 pages


A collection of eleven stories follows characters at the crossroads of geography and faith who are all trying to find someone to believe in as they struggle with love, violence, faith, and the challenges of balancing traditions with modern times.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Beamis12
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member kremsa
Thank you to Random House and the Goodreads Giveaway for the free copy of The Best Place on Earth by Ayelet Tsabari. This wonderful collection of short stories allows you to travel to Israel, India and Canada without leaving the comfort of your home! One of the things I liked best about the stories
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is the beautiful rich prose. The vivid imagery makes you feel the heat of the desert or smell the tantalizing scents of food or the salty sea air as if you are there. Many of the stories take place in Israel focusing on Israel's Mizrahi Jews. These well developed and varied characters are link the stories by sharing the common theme of searching for the place where they belong. I enjoyed all of the stories equally and feel as if I have gained some insight into what the lives of a culturally rich people, living in the shadows of wars past and present, may be like. Ms. Tsabari is a talented writer and I look forward to reading more of her work. Well worth the read!
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LibraryThing member bowedbookshelf
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
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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.”
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LibraryThing member bostonbibliophile
Beautiful collection of short stories about being young and living in, being from, being defined by, relating to Israel. Many of the characters are from a Yemeni background and have a slightly alienated relationship with the country; all are trying to figure out how to be Israeli, whether or not
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they live there now. Tsabari's writing is beautiful throughout. I can't wait for her to publish a novel.
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Original language


Physical description

240 p.; 8 inches


1443411965 / 9781443411967

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