Granville Island, home to the Vancouver Writers’ Fest.
I’ve been waiting for the right time to write in great length about my amazing trip to Vancouver, describe my time at The Vancouver Writers’ Fest, which was as unforgettable and dreamy as I had hoped. I wanted to write about the panels and how well they went, the parties and late nights at the hospitality suite with my new talented friends (Saleema Nawaz, Theodora Armstrong, Angie Abdou, Shaena Lambert) and my dear old friends (Nancy Jo Cullen, Naz Hozar), the inspiring events that made me want to go home and write, write, write, how Thomson Highway renamed my book The Best Place to Nurse, and how my baby was made the official festival baby (apparently there’s one every year) and even Margaret Atwood said hi when we passed her in the hotel’s hallway. And how, on the very last day, I went to take a photo of The Best Place on Earth at the festival’s bookstore and found out it SOLD OUT! Which was so much better than a picture!
Signing books at the Vancouver Writers’ Fest bookstore
I also wanted to write about Place Identity, the reading slash Vancouver launch of The Best Place on Earth slash Cwila fundraiser, where I read with the amazing Renée Saklikar and Anakana Schofield, and shared the stage with host extraordinaire Elee Kraljii Gardiner and Cwila founder Gillian Jerome. It was an intimate and warm event and truly felt like a homecoming. I even got to hang out with my dear friends Janet Hong and Gurjinder Basran.
But before I had to chance to recap my two weeks on the coast (luckily, I covered my time in the Victoria Writers’ Festival in this post!) I was back in Ontario and spending a weekend in Waterloo, at the Wild Writers Festival. And there was so much to say about that, too, more inspiring panels, hanging out with old friends and making new friends. And then, a few days later I read as a part of The Eh List author series at the Toronto Library alongside Lily Poritz Miller, and it was a fabulous, well-attended event, and if was a better blogger I would have told you all about that too.
Now, we’re on our way to Israel. We’re leaving in two weeks. I hope to do some actual writing (!) while I’m away and it is beginning to feel like I’ll never find the time to blog about any of this, so I think I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves.
At the Random House party with Nancy Jo Cullen
With Priscila Uppal, and no, we have not planned it.
With my dear Naz Hozar
Vancouver Writers’ Fest participating authors.
With the lovely book seller.
Naz is kicking Joseph Boyden’s Butt
Before Out of Place, Panel discussion and reading With Xiaolu Guo, Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Rhea Tregebov
At Out of Place at the Vancouver Writers’ Fest, with the brilliant Xiaolu Guo and Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Reading from Tikkun at Out of Place at the Vancouver Writers’ Fest
I love booksellers
D.W. Wilson, who was on my Faces in the Conflict panel in Vancouver (along with Michael Winter and Kathy Para), gave me this great idea: he asked authors who read with him to sign his reading copy. I immediately stole that idea, and now my reading copy is awesome and full of dedications by authors I was lucky enough to share the stage with this fall. I love it!
With Anne Fleming who moderated Faces in the Conflict
Granville Island early morning fog.
Early Sunday morning in Waterloo
The lovely Leesa Dean at the Wild Writers Festival in Waterloo
With Elisabeth de Mariaffi (who I never see anymore since she moved to St. John’s) at the Wild Writers Festival in Waterloo
The lovely Elee Kraljii Gardiner hosting Place Identity
With Sheila Giffen from Cwila at Place Identity
On Wednesday, after my reading at the Toronto Public Library’s Author series, The Eh List
, two different audience members told me that The Best Place on Earth
had been their book club pick. “You should have invited me,”
I told one and she seemed surprised. “You would have come?” “Of course!” I said. There’s nothing more exciting for a writer than to have a conversation about their work with intelligent readers. I also found a mention of a book club in Winnipeg
that read The Best Place on Earth
over the summer (I am trying to manifest a trip to Winnipeg for a reading or a festival, because I’ve never been there and I hear such great things. Also, this review
Well, on November 25, I finally get to visit a book club, and it’s a good one! The Humber College Writing Centre, where I used to work when I first moved to Toronto, has a well attended and well advertized book club. I should know, because I was in charge of it once (our pick then was Camilla Gibb‘s Sweetness in the Belly!) It’s even more of a treat because we’re also having an apres-launch for Eufemia Fantetti‘s A Recipe for Disaster & Other Unlikely Tales of Love (which launched in Vancouver yesterday!) I am beyond thrilled. The event is open to all, just RVSP here. Refreshments will be provided!
The Jewish Independent
interviewed me for their cover story
! Their questions were insightful and interesting and I enjoyed answering them. The online version is posted here
I’m back in Ontario (more about my amazing time in Vancouver soon!) and thrilled to be taking part at the Wild Writers Festival in Waterloo this coming weekend. I’ll be doing two panels on Saturday, November 9. How Geography Defines the Writer, at 11:10 with Tamas Dobozy, Christine Pountney, and Donna Morrissey, and Writers at Risk, at 3:10 with Oakland Ross and Karen Connelly.
© Ayelet Tsabari
At the Regent Hotel
Ahhhh, Victoria. I adore this city. Probably because it is Sean’s hometown, where he was born and raised, and where his family still lives. And the mild weather and natural beauty sure don’t hurt. After a decade of regular visits, I now have my own history in the city, so when we drive its streets I spot my own landmarks and memories, see old versions of myself everywhere. For example, the first time Sean took me to meet his family for Christmas, he and I had lunch at Café Mexico downtown. I remember I still used a non-digital SLR and that I took a photo of the decorative bright blue shutters at the entrance of the place. But mostly I remember how sad I was that day, because I felt like I would never be a writer, that the dream had slipped away from me somehow. Perhaps, I had said to Sean as we sat there eating burritos or enchiladas, the high point of my writing career was already behind me—back in my days as a successful teen journalist. “I’m a has-been at thirty-one,” I said to him, only a little overly dramatic.
This morning, as I checked out of the snazzy Regent Hotel, where we stayed for two nights courtesy of the Victoria Writers Festival, I realized that Café Mexico was kitty corner from us. I took a moment to ponder the coincidence, and then made Sean drive by so I could take a photo and be reminded of how far I’ve come since.
With Wayde Compton
I spent the weekend at the Victoria Writers Festival and it was wonderful in every possible way. The weather was gorgeous, sunny and warm, and the beautiful hotel was right on the water, offering stunning views of the city and the inner harbour and the Johnson Street Bridge. And then, of course, there was the festival. As expected from the city it was casual, informal, intimate and charming. The first night I went to see my mentor, Wayde Compton, read a brilliant excerpt from a short story collection he’s been working on. I can’t begin to explain how much it meant to me to be in the same festival with Wayde and have him in the audience the following day.
With Saleema Nawaz
On Saturday I participated in two events. Sean’s family came to the first one, Love Familiar, and Sean wore Baby for most of it (she made the cutest sounds while I was on stage). I read with Dede Crane, Shaena Lambert and Matt Rader. They were all fantastic, and interesting, and inspiring, and the audience was engaged and asked a lot of questions. Afterwards, I signed books and spoke to a few kind readers. I also took part at “Stitch the Line”, an embroidery project by the lovely Diana Weymar, who sat at the make-shift book store and stitched participating authors’ book titles on a large banner. She also invited writers, audience members and volunteers to stitch a signature, design or text that addressed the question, “What role does memory play in reading?”
at Love Familiar, with Shaena Lambert, Dede Crane and Matt Rader. And no, I’m not beep-boxing.
Then I rushed back to the hotel, changed, ate, fed Baby, and rushed back for the final event of the festival, Rapt. I’d been excited (and intimidated!) about taking part of this event for weeks now, because the lineup was ridiculous. Angie Abdou started with a bang, making everyone laugh with her reading from The Bone Cage; Sara Peters read beautiful, moving poems from her book 1996, Saleema Nawaz gave a wonderful reading from Bone and Bread, and Jay Ruzesky and Annabel Lyon rounded it up with more great readings from In Antarctica and The Sweet Girl, respectively. I was last, which made me all the more nervous. Despite being the new kid on the block, everyone was extremely nice and welcoming. It was great to see Angie again (we read in Vancouver together a couple of years ago) and to finally meet and spend time with the lovely Saleema. I get to see both of them again in the Vancouver Writers’ Festival. Lucky! I also met Will Johnson. In person.
With Will Johnson
Will came to a reading I did in The Real Vancouver Writers Series a couple of years ago and then slipped out without saying hello to me (he blames it on an inexplicable bout of shyness). This time, I noticed him from the stage; he was sitting on the balcony all evening being rowdy with a couple of local poets, and then I spotted his red-haired-fro as he was walking out. So I called his name and told him to get his ass over here, and that it was lame the first time he didn’t say hello and that there’s no way he’s doing it again. I’m glad I shamed him into hanging out with me. Everybody talks about how nice Will is, and of course he is, but I have to admit that sometimes the word nice makes me yawn a little, and Will is anything but yawn-inducing. He is awesome and fun and badass. The festival concluded with an after-party at the house of author John Gould (one of the organizers) and his lovely wife, Sandy, where we ate and drank and chatted about writing and books and other things too. I also got to hang out with the awesome and hilarious Anne Fleming, who is going to moderate one of my Vancouver Writers’ Festival events, and many other people, too many to count. I’m so grateful to John Gould, Sara Cassidy and Julie Paul for inviting me, and for working so hard to make this festival happen. I loved every minute of it.
With Angie Abdou and Saleema Nawaz
Stitch the Line banner (with The Best Place on Earth written in both English and Hebrew!)
I’m thrilled to be heading to Vancouver and Victoria for a mini-book tour in a few days. Vancouver is one of my homes (I’ve written about it here
). I lived there for eleven years and I still miss it. When I got my book deal
I promised my friends in the city that I’d fly there to launch my book after I do my Toronto Launch
. But then I ended up having a baby instead. The Best Place on Earth
is now six months old, a little old for a launch, but I still wanted to celebrate it with my BC people. So here are some of the events I will be participating in. I would be tickled if you came to say hello.
Our first stop (Sean and baby and me) is Victoria, Sean’s hometown. I will be taking part in two events in the Victoria Writers Festival, while staying at the snazzy Regent Hotel (thank you, VWF!) and hopefully getting to meet some of my Victoria Twitter friends! (Erin Francis Fisher will be there, and maybe Will Johnson too? A girl can hope.)
My first event is Love Familiar, readings and panel discussion with Dede Crane, Matt Rader, and Shaena Lambert (what great company!) It is going to take place on Saturday, October 19, at 2:45pm, at Camosun College, Lansdowne Campus. Sean’s entire family is going to be in attendance, and yes, Sean will be wearing the baby (seems appropriate for an event about family).
Then, that evening, I’m going to read as a part of their Saturday Night event, Rapt. The lineup is ridiculous. Angie Abdou, Annabel Lyon, Saleema Nawaz, Sara Peters and Jay Ruzesky. This event will be at 7:30pm, also at Camosun College, Lansdowne Campus.
I’m also looking forward to the Friday night event, Carousal. Wayde Compton, my mentor from The Writer’s Studio, will be reading with Marjorie Celona, Anne Fleming, Catherine Greenwood, MAC Farrant and Shaena Lambert.
Then we are off to Vancouver! I’m especially excited to be participating in Vancouver International Writers’ Festival. It’s been a dream of mine since the first time I attended, in 2007. I even got to read at the launch of emerge, The Writer’s Studio anthology, which launches at the festival every year. After I moved to Toronto, every fall I wished that I could afford to fly back especially for the festival. (I talk a little bit about my love for the festival on their blog).
My first event, Faces in the Conflict, is on Friday, October 25, 1:00pm – 2:30pm at the Waterfront Theatre in Granville Island. It is a panel discussion and reading with Nadeem Aslam, Michael Winter, and D.W. Wilson. Okay, yeah. I’m a little intimidated.
The second event is on Saturday, October 26, 5:00pm – 6:30pm, also in Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island. Out of Place, panel discussion and reading with Xiaolu Guo (one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists) and Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
I’m starting to get a little nervous!
Finally, I wanted to celebrate with my Writer’s Studio crowd. I did promise a launch, after all. So I arranged for a special reading, Place Identity, with two Writers’ Studio alumnae: the illustrious Anakana Schofield and the fabulous Renée Sarojini Saklikar. It’s going to take place at The Tipper Restaurant & Review Room, 2066 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC, on Friday, November 1. The lovely Elee Kraljii Gardiner will be hosting, and CWILA (Canadian Women in the Literary Arts) will be in attendance and accepting donations. Books will be available for sale. The event is free and everyone is welcome. Judging by the Facebook Event, it’s going to have a pretty good turnout. And thanks to my awesome friend Jai Kristjan who created this beautiful flyer.
The next morning, November 2, 9:00am-12:00pm, I will be teaching a workshop about place, Wish You Were Here: Writing about Place Workshop at the beautiful Trout Lake Community Centre. There are still a few spaces available. To Register go here.
I went to see Jhumpa Lahiri
on Sunday at a free event put up by The Toronto Library
. I’ve been a Lahiri fan since I read her first book, The Interpreter of Maladies
. It was one of the first books I read in English. I bought it years ago at the Chapters on Robson in Vancouver, and I loved it. I remember thinking that maybe one day I’ll get back to writing short fiction. That maybe one day I’ll publish a book. I don’t know if it had even occurred to me to write in English at that point.
It’s not every day that a girl gets to meet her literary hero. The morning before the event I was giddy with excitement. I couldn’t decide what to wear, what to say to her when she signed my books. By the time I got to the venue, breathless (traffic, baby, busy morning), almost all the seats were filled. At one point, a woman recognized me from my event at Spur Festival, and commented on how much she enjoyed my reading from The Best Place on Earth, and how well I handled the audience’s questions (referring to the memorable “Are you a Zionist” question). I thanked her and then quickly dropped the not-so-well-constructed author persona and babbled on like a star-struck groupie about how I can’t believe I was about to see Lahiri read.
When Lahiri took the stage I was surprised by how lanky and slim she was. In her pictures she’s beautiful in an almost ethereal way. In reality she was still beautiful, but also a little awkward and shy, which I found endearing. Her reading from The Lowland was mesmerizing. She mostly spoke about issues of identity and home, which is one of the many reasons I love her as a writer. She’s obsessed with the same themes I’m obsessed with. She did, however, say that she felt ready to move on, to explore new themes. She didn’t know where she was heading, but she knew she was done. I can’t wait to read what she tackles next.
I stomped over some audience members on my way over to the book signing table and managed to be fifth in a very long lineup. (In my defense, I needed to head back home and feed my baby). The line moved fast: assistants took your book, opened it to the right page, spelled your name on post-it note, and then passed it on to Lahiri to sign. When it was my turn I presented her with a stack of her books, which she signed graciously. Up close, she appeared exhausted; she had mentioned on stage that she was on a quick stopover in Toronto and had just landed from London. I only had a minute. I may have confessed to being a huge fan. I may have told her that she was a great influence on me while writing The Best Place on Earth. I may have also slipped her a copy of the book (which she possibly left in her hotel room that night for the maid to find. I can’t imagine how many people have tried that before me). She glanced at the book. She looked up and studied me for a moment. She smiled. She thanked me. The whole thing took about thirty seconds. It was magic.
I am running a writing workshop, ‘Wish You Were Here: Writing about Place‘, in Vancouver this fall. I am very excited about it. It will take place at the lovely Trout Lake Community Centre (one of my favourite spots in East Vancouver!)
Here’s more information from the flyer:
Evoking a profound sense of “being there” in writing is one of the most important elements of prose, and a way of immersing the reader in what John Gardner called “the fictional dream”. Mastery of place involves more than just using descriptive words. Vivid setting emerges as much from the character’s point of view, actions and voice as it does from imagery, sensory details, metaphor and simile.
Participants will learn new techniques to approach writing about place, and will begin thinking of place as a potential character in their work. Drawing from examples by successful practitioners of the craft, and through guided hands-on exercises, attendees will be able to use setting as the basis for creating dramatic and engaging stories.
This workshop is designed for both fiction and creative nonfiction writers of all levels.
Optional: Send one page (double spaced) of your work by October 30th for feedback. The sample should engage with place in some way. Examples from participants’ work may be discussed in class.
When: Saturday, November 2nd, 2013, 9:00am-12:00pm
Where: Trout Lake Community Centre, 3360 Victoria Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5N 4M4
Registration Fee: $70 (payable by cheque or PayPal. To pay by PayPal go here)
Registration Deadline: Please RSVP here by October 30, 2013
I was invited to take part in a unique project this year. The Amber Archives
is an annual participatory art project operated by artist John Paul Robinson
. Artists of every discipline submit works to be included in the archive, which John then reproduces on ceramic disks encased in pine resin and sealed in Amber Time Capsules. Yes, you heard right. Time capsules. He calls it the Amber Archives
, because it imitates the process by which tree resin is fossilized into amber. As written on the website
, “Once the Amber Time Capsules are sealed they are placed in a secret geological location conducive to the process of fossilization, leaving their fate to geology and time.”
I cannot begin to count the ways in which I love this idea.
So, this year I am one of the artists lucky enough to participate. I chose an excerpt from the title story in The Best Place on Earth (which I had to format to fit onto a 6″ diameter ceramic disk. That was interesting). Artists include my dear friend, the talented playwright and librettist Anna Chatterton, and other musicians, architects, and filmmakers.
The Amber Archive Exhibition will be displayed at Gallery 50, 50 Gladstone Ave, Toronto, from October 9th to October 13th, with the Participants Reception on Oct. 10th 6-9pm. Both Anna I will be there!
Tickets for the Vancouver International Writers Festival
have gone on sale today, and apparently some events are already sold out! Here are the links to my two events, Faces in the Conflict
, with Nadeem Aslam
, Michael Winter
, and D.W. Wilson
(buy it here
) and Out of Place
, with Xiaolu Guo
and Silvia Moreno-Garcia
(buy it here)
More about how to buy tickets here.
And here is a short video about the festival, just because.
The Victoria Writers’ Festival has also started their ticket sale. I’m participating in two events; the first one is Love Familiar, readings and panel discussion with Dede Crane, Matt Rader, and Shaena Lambert. The second one is their Saturday night event, Rapt, with Angie Abdou, Annabel Lyon, Saleema Nawaz, Sara Peters and Jay Ruzesky.
You can buy tickets for all events here.
It’s hard to believe that The Best Place on Earth‘s six month birthday is coming up! It’s been such a ride. Some lovely reviews and interviews have appeared in the blogsphere recently.
Writer Trevor Corkum (who recently moved to Toronto. Yay!) interviewed me for his blog Currently Living. I really loved his questions, which were thoughtful and intelligent. He also said these kind things about the book:
“Over the summer, I had the privilege of reading The Best Place on Earth, one of the best short fiction collections I’ve read in some time. Ayelet Tsabari’s stories are complex microcosms of the dilemmas experienced by those who face the push and pull of competing and multi-layered identities – nationality, language, and culture chief among them.”
Read the full interview here.
AbeBooks interviewed me for their Author Corner, where they said:
“There’s poetry in the short story of Toronto’s Ayelet Tsabari. The Israeli-Canadian author’s debut collection The Best Place on Earth speaks in a language all its own, and explores the individuals and relationships going on behind climate, politics, wars and more, whether in Israel, or on either Canadian coast.”
Two prolific book bloggers have reviewed The Best Place on Earth on their blogs. Book bloggers are the best. Whenever people talk about how people don’t read anymore, I think about book bloggers and it warms my heart. They make me happy.
Buried in Print wrote a generous write-up about the book. I love her take on the book, and her profound observation about the sense of motion in the stories, and how it juxtaposes with the characters’ struggle with inertia. She also said this:
“The stories in Ayelet Tsabari’s The Best Place on Earth are engaging and evocative, the author’s voice is vibrant and resonant: a thoroughly satisfying combination. “
Lyndy Reads and Reviews is an Edmonton blogger who reads about 250 (!) books a year (see what I mean by prolific? And why I love book bloggers so much?) She decided to review the book in honour of Rosh Hashanah, which was a fabulous holiday gift! Here’s an excerpt from her lovely review,
“There’s an intensity to Tsabari’s stories that probably mimics the experience of life in contemporary Israel. I loved the glimpses they gave into the inner and outer worlds of her characters.”
Finally, Andrew Vowles, one of my writing students (first at the University of Guelph and then at the University of Toronto), interviewed me about literary coincidences, and the line between fiction and nonfiction for CFRU Pioneer Radio, The University of Guelph’s campus radio. You can listen to it here; I start around 14:00 and go for about 10 minutes. Apparently, I ummm and hmmm a lot. His questions were thought provoking though, so some hmmms and ummms were necessary.
I love summer. It is my favourite season. In my early twenties I chased sunshine and managed to live in perpetual summer for four years. I spent much of that time on beaches, dressed in sarongs and bikini tops, shells braided into my hair, swinging on hammocks and sleeping in huts on the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, the Med. I arrived in Vancouver at the end of this four-year stretch, on the first day of summer of all days. I brought with me a suitcase overflowing with tie-dye tank tops, flimsy halter tops, and summer dresses (clearly I was delusional), and a tan so deep that I had fooled myself into believing it was my natural skin colour and was surprised by my paleness a few months later. That was the end of my endless summer. I didn’t give up my love of beaches: I still travelled to warmer places when I could afford it, but I also experienced Canadian winters, and falls, and springs. I saw seasons changing, leaves turning red and yellow. Trees stripped naked. Lakes freezing. Flowers blooming. I became Canadian.
It is always with mixed feelings that I welcome fall. On one hand, it marks the end of bare feet, lazing on porches, and swimming outdoors, and is a prelude to grey skies, slushy sidewalks, parkas and Sorrels. On the other hand, fall in Toronto is delicately beautiful, romantic even. Despite the potential for melancholy, it feels festive, partially because it is the start of the Jewish New Year, a time for new beginnings and New Year’s resolutions, and partially because it is the season of literary festivals, which, for a book geek like me is the definition of a good time (or at least it’s one definition. Hanging out on beaches all day long is another). I LOVE going to literary events. I adore hearing authors read and talk about their work. I find it inspiring and enlightening and stimulating and entertaining. It is also a chance to participate and expand my literary community. And buy new books. Obviously. There are always more books.
This year fall feels especially festive and exciting because I get to travel with The Best Place on Earth and be one of those authors. How awesome is that?
So here is where you can see me this fall: talking about the book, reading from the book, signing the book, or hosting literary events with other fabulous writers (where I promise to shut up about the book).
September 5, 2013, 7:00pm, ‘Stranger than Fiction Cabaret’
I am hosting an evening of creative nonfiction, introducing new work by my wonderful students at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies: Katherine Arcus, Elizabeth Brooks, Kathy Elminshawi, Andrew Fruman and Andrew Vowles. And a special treat! Author Eufemia Fantetti —one of the best readers I know—will be our featured reader. It falls on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, clearly an auspicious time!
The Press Club, 850 Dundas Street West, Toronto
September 7, 2013, 2:00PM – 4:00PM, Book signing, Chapters Indigo Yorkdale Mall
I’ll be signing books at Chapters Indigo in Yorkdale Mall. Come say hi so I don’t get lonely. You can also chat with me and ask me questions.
Yorkdale Mall, 3401 Dufferin Street Unit #29, Toronto
October 7, 2013, Reading at The Rowers Pub Reading Series
I am excited to read at this reading series at the lovely Victory Cafe, with Lois Lorimer, John Steffler, and Ian Williams. It’s going to be a great evening.
Victory Cafe, 581 Markham St., Mirvish Village, Toronto
October 17-19, Victoria Writers Festival
I am thrilled to be participating at the Victoria Writers Festival this year. I have a soft spot for Victoria, which is where Sean was raised and where his family still lives. We visit it at least once a year and have quite a few friends in the city. I will be participating in two events:
- Writing about Family, readings and panel discussion with Dede Crane and Shaena Lambert (what great company!), on Saturday, October 19, 2013, 2:45pm.
- Rapt, a Saturday night reading with a stellar lineup: Angie Abdou, Annabel Lyon, Saleema Nawaz, Sara Peters and Jay Ruzesky. Hosted by Lee Henderson. I’m so excited! October 19, 2013, 7:30pm
Tickets and schedule will be available for sale on September 5th.
October 22-27, Vancouver International Writers’ Festival
Okay, I have to confess that I am giddy beyond belief about taking part in this festival this year. I lived in Vancouver for eleven years, so it still feels a little bit like home. A few years ago, when I started writing more seriously, I discovered The Writers’ Festival and I fell in love. Hard. In 2007, When I studied with The Writer’s Studio, we launched our anthology, emerge, at the festival, and I remember how honoured I was to be there, have my name listed in the program. Maybe, one day, I thought, I’d get to do this again, this time promoting my own book. In the following years I became a ‘friend of the festival,’ signed up for their (highly recommended) weekly newsletter. One year, Eufemia Fantetti and I bought tickets to so many events that by the end of the festival we couldn’t even talk to each other because our brains exploded from too many words. Since I moved to Toronto, I have been wishing every fall that I could afford to fly to Vancouver for the festival.
So when I got the invitation to join the festival this year I screamed. And danced. And hung the invitation on my cork board and glanced at it every now and then to remind myself that dreams do come true.
I’ll be doing two events with some incredible writers:
Tickets go on sale on Monday, September 9, 2013.
I am hoping to do some other readings while I’m in Vancouver, so more info TBA.
It would also be a great opportunity to get me to come to your book club! So please contact me if you are interested.
November 8-10, 2013, Wild Writers Festival, Waterloo, ON
I was invited by The New Quarterly, one of my favourite literary magazines, to participate in the Wild Writers festival in Waterloo. I love what the festival has posted on their homepage,
“Here’s to the wild ones—the unbridled lovers of the written word, embarking on a journey of discovery and experimentation.
Here’s to the fearless readers and writers who open up new worlds. Who revel in a well-turned phrase and a well-worn page.
Here’s to the wild ones. Confronting convention and dismissing pretension, they bravely explore how words can transform and transcend our lives.”
Isn’t it lovely?
Details will be posted soon, but I do know that my pals Nancy Jo Cullen, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, George Murray, Catherine Bush, and Leesa Dean, are going to be there too (check out the list of participating writers here). Party in Waterloo!
November 13, 2013, 7:00PM, The Eh List Author Series, with Lily Poritz Miller
Joseph Romain, the programmer for the Eh List, kindly wrote about The Best Place on Earth on The Eh list blog. He said:
“If you read widely enough, every once in a while, you might come across a surprising new writer. If you are the programmer for The eh List, you just might get to bring that new writer to visit a library. Ayelet Tsabari is that surprising new writer for me. If you only read one new writer this season, you might want to make it Ayelet Tsabari.”
I will be appearing alongside Lili Poritz Miller, author of The Newcomers. We will be interviewing each other about our books and our lives, in what promises to be a candid and engaging event.
Barbara Frum Branch, Toronto Public Library, 20 Covington Road, Toronto, ON
November 21, 2013, Book Launch, A Recipe for Disaster & Other Unlikely Tales of Love
Back in March, I was fortunate to have Eufemia Fantetti hosting The Best Place on Earth’s Book launch. So it only makes sense that now that her book, A Recipe for Disaster & Other Unlikely Tales of Love, is coming out (you can pre-order it on Amazon, and you should. Because it’s great and funny as hell) I will host hers. I can only hope I do as great a job as she did at mine! Extra bonus: readings by the lovely and talented Becky Blake (winner of the CBC Short Story Prize this year), and Kathy Friedman (a finalist for the Bronwen Wallace award). Damn, I have awesome friends.
No One Writes to the Colonel, 460 College St. Toronto, ON
More events still to come! Check out my Events page.
And Shana Tova!
©Ayelet Tsabari 2013
Okay, just a few words first.
I recently discovered Wordless Wednesday. On Wednesdays, bloggers around the world post an untitled photo on their blog. No captions. No words. Because, you know, a photo is worth a thousand.
So since this is my first time, here are a few more words by Susan Sontag, from her book On Photography:
“To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” —Susan Sontag
And just a few more (and then I promise I’ll shut up. What part of wordless don’t you understand???)
“Narratives can make us understand. Photographs do something else. They haunt us.” —Susan Sontag
You can read an excerpt from the book here.
Here’s my first contribution. I hope you enjoy.
@Ayelet Tsabari 2013
I had fun signing books at Chapters Indigo in Eaton Centre Toronto.
Look at this great company I’m keeping!
With Rachel, the lovely manager.
My piece, “Unravel the Tangle,” which I wrote about my father and his poetry, was published in Room Magazine
this month. After the essay about my mom (“Yemeni Soup and Other Recipes
,” published in Grain
) garnered so much attention last month
, I was pleased to see the tribute to my father finally in print. I had wanted to write about my father for years, but wasn’t sure how. It felt too big, too raw, too difficult, even thirty years after his death.
The title of the piece, Unravel the Tangle, is a line from one of my father’s poems. My father wrote poetry for one youthful, feverish year. It was 1959 and he was twenty years old, a skinny Yemeni boy from a poor neighbourhood, fresh off his service in the Signal Corps. He worked all day in menial jobs and in the evenings took the bus to Tel Aviv, where he studied to be a lawyer. Two years later he was married to my mother; a year later he became a dad for the first time. Life got in the way. His poetry aspirations were forgotten, abandoned for more practical pursuits. But he never stopped writing. He wrote long, funny, detailed letters to friends and family. His bedside drawer was full of scribbling.
After his death his friends collected the poems—a poetic journal of his youth—into a book. A couple of years ago I decided to reread his book, translate some of his poetry and incorporate it into an essay about him. I don’t know how good a job I did translating—I’m not a poet nor a translator—but it felt kind of remarkable, to be able to give his poems a new life in a new language more than fifty years later.
I have an essay on writing published in Event’s Notes on Writing issue this month. I’ve been a follower of this annual issue for years (I have a stack of them at home which I often revisit) and always fantasized about contributing to it one day. The essay, “How to Make a Cream Sauce,” tells my journey through learning and unlearning the ‘rules’ of writing. It’s something I feel quite passionate about and I’m grateful to the folks at Event for letting me rant. There are other great essays in this issue, by writers Anne Fleming, Sachiko Murakami, Billeh Nickerson and Chris Hutchinson.
Finally, Prism Magazine published a lovely review of The Best Place on Earth, where they call it “intricate and unrelentingly human.” Thank you, Prism!