It’s hard to believe but it’s been over a month since The Best Place on Earth was released! Probably because so much has happened. It finally feels like spring in Toronto, the sun is shining, the tree in the backyard has begun to bloom, I packed up my parka in favour of a lighter coat (not leather jacket weather yet, I’m afraid), and the grass in the front yard turned vibrant green. Exciting times!
I wanted to catch up on some of the coverage that The Best Place on Earth has received this past month. The biggest news is that the book was longlisted to the The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award: an award I’ve been following quite religiously over the past few years. It’s a huge honour. Here’s a cool link to a short fiction blog, Rob Around Books, which compiled the longlisted covers into a neat collage.
I had a great time reading and chatting at Spur Festival’s Well Read Mornings two weekends ago. The turnout was great, I didn’t spill food on my dress once, the host, Helen Walsh, was lovely and the audience was engaged. We also sold a bunch of books! I was nervous at first to have to carry an entire event by myself but it was really a blast to talk about the book, my Israeli and Yemeni heritage, and yes, a little bit of politics (first question from the audience, “Are you a Zionist?”)
Throughout this month, kind people have been saying thoughtful things on blogs and websites and I wanted to mention some highlights.
- The lovely, generous Nancy Richler, author of the Giller nominated, best-selling (and a great read!) The Impostor Bride blogged about The Best Place on Earth for The Jewish Book Council (an American site), where she said, amongst other things:
“There is a compelling urgency to each of the stories and to the collection as a whole that reflects the multifaceted society she brings to life.”
- American author Erika Dreifus, author of Quiet Americans: Stories (Last Light Studio), also recommended The Best Place on Earth on her excellent blog for writers. She says some really nice things about my work and earlier this month also recommended my National Post essay. In her post she says,
“These finely crafted stories feature the voices and experiences of Mizrahi Jews–Jews from the Middle East/North Africa–a group that I haven’t often seen depicted in fiction.”
Dreifus was also my first reviewer at Goodreads, where she called the collection “Wonderful.” Thanks, Erika!
- Schema Magazine voted The Best Place on Earth as one of three ‘ethnic’ books to read in 2013, right next to Chimamanda Adichie’s new novel, Americanah. I’m a huge fan of Adichie, so my heart stopped when I saw our books one next to the other. This is what they said about it,
“Inspired by her country and her own history, Tsabari also explores the gender politics behind Israel’s mandatory military service (interesting fact–she also served in the Israeli army before moving to and settling in Toronto). I know that I don’t tend to hear stories and perspectives like this often, so Tsabari’s The Best Place On Earth is bound to be a captivating and enriching reading experience.”
- Salty Ink (a great literary blog written by author Chad Pelley, whose new book, Every Little Thing, was also released in March ) recommended The Best Place on Earth as its weekly reading suggestion. (He also included it on its short fiction highlights and linked to my Afterword Essay).
- Bella’s Bookshelves mentions The Best Place on Earth in her Short Stories for Breakfast weekly recap. Steph (who’s behind Bella’s Bookshelves) decided to read a short story (or two) for breakfast every morning and then write about them in her blog. I loved the idea and was honoured that she included The Best Place on Earth on her list. She read ‘Tikkun’ and ‘Say it Again, Say Something Else.’ She calls the stories “Sensory” and “wholehearted” and says, “Also, she can write a great sex scene, let me tell you. It takes skill!”
- You can read an interview with me on Will Johnson’s prolific blog, Literary Goon, and on Jessica Kluthe’s blog. Kluthe is the author of the newly released Rosina, The Midwife, which has been getting great reviews.
- Open Book Toronto asked me to contribute to its Dirty Dozen series this month, where I shared twelve unexpected facts about myself. Read about my barefoot adventures in Thailand, what a terrible soldier I’d been in the Israeli Army, and why you’d want me to take your order at a restaurant (amongst other outrageously unexpected facts).
- Open Book Ontario asked me and four other writers to answer the following question, “How do you make or find the time to write?” for their monthly Fiction Craft feature by Shaun Smith. You can click here to read everyone’s answers. Here’s the beginning of mine:
“I used to work evenings as a waitress, write at night, and sleep late into the day. Or at least I liked the idea of writing at night: the image of myself tapping on keys while drinking scotch and smoking cigarettes satisfied some immature, romantic notions. In reality, I didn’t really do much writing at all because by the time I came home from work I was tired and was more into wasting time on Facebook or watching TV.”
I have compiled all of these links, as well as links to some great reviews on the Media List tab.