Judges’ Comments

״…Because all the judges agreed that the excellence and boldness of The Best Place on Earth predicts a brilliant future for Jewish fiction, Ayelet Tsabari won the Sami Rohr Prize. Her stories surprise and startle; her characters pause for a moment while we stamp our passport, and then sidle off to unexpected, unpredicted destinations. Wherever the stories are set, Israel is always, somehow, present, as if lodged in a safe room of the mind.”

—Sami Rohr Prize Judges’ Comments

Sonnet L'Abbé
Sonnet L’Abbé

“I chose Ayelet Tsabari’s ‘Learning to Stand Still’ as this year’s In-House Edna Prize winner for the remarkable way the essay recollects the scattered energies of an identity literally blown apart by war. Tsabari gathers up the details of her own disassembly and reassembles them, as she once did the parts of her machine gun, into one of the very narratives that have served as her shore against internal chaos. Tsabari’s memoir is a bracing meditation on the easy sensationalism war stories can provide, and on the storyteller’s temptation to drag oneself through self-created conflicts just to have something to recount. Not only did I meet Tsabari as a vibrant, fierce, intelligent individual, but she disassembled any idea of writing as a safe, bookish, disembodied activity and gave it back to me, reassembled, as an engaged, badass, full-on way to live.”

—Sonnet L’Abbé, Judge for The New Quarterly In-House Edna Staebler Award