Shalom Life | August 03, 2015

Israeli-Canadian Author Ayelet Tsabari Talks ‘The Best Place on Earth’

Award-winning writer Ayelet Tsabari speaks with Shalom Life about Israel, moving to Canada, and her upcoming short story collection.

By: Ashley Baylen

Published: March 26th, 2012 in Culture » Books » Interviews

Israeli-Canadian Author Ayelet Tsabari Talks ‘The Best Place on Earth’

Ayelet Tsabari was born in a suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel to a large family of Yemeni descent. After traveling extensively throughout South East Asia, Europe, and North America, she has now settled (for the time being) in Toronto.

Tsabari was first published at the age of 10 in an Israeli children’s magazine, and continued to seek recognition throughout her teenage years for her short stories, poems, articles, and essays.

In 1998, she moved to Vancouver. Initially struggling with writing in English (Hebrew is her first language), Tsabari sought alternative ways to tell stories. She studied film and photography in Capilani University’s Media Program, where she directed two documentary films, one of which won the grand prize at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival.

Tsabari is a two-time winner of the Event Creative Non-Fiction Contest, 1st runner-up in PRISM International Non-Fiction Contest, and has been shortlisted in several other contests. Her stories have been featured in magazines and anthologies including; Event, Room, Grain, PRISM International, and Passion Fruit.

The Best Place on Earth, her short story collection, will be released through HarperCollins in 2013.

Tsabari sat down with Shalom Life to discuss writing, moving to Canada, and The Best Place on Earth.

Ashley Baylen (AB): I understand you started writing at a very young age and were even published at the age of ten! What initially sparked your passion for writing?

Ayelet Tsabari (AT): I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in telling stories. Even before I could write I used to draw comics and then use them to tell stories to my mother. My older sister and my father were both a huge influence on me early on. My sister transcribed some of my early stories before I knew how to write and was the first person to give me a diary for my sixth or seventh birthday and say Write! My father, who was a closet poet, read everything I wrote and encouraged me. As soon as I learned the alphabet I was writing every day and reading everything in sight.

AB: You write everything from fiction and poems to essays and newspaper articles. Do you have a preference between fact and fiction?

AT: I actually only write fiction and creative non-fiction. I haven’t written poems since my angst-ridden high school phase, which is probably a good thing, and I stopped writing for newspapers many years ago. I found that I was too busy meeting deadlines to write anything creative in my spare time. Fiction is definitely my first love. I came to creative non-fiction later in life, when I first tried writing in English, my second language. For some reason, it was easier for me to envision writing in English in a new genre because I associated fiction with Hebrew. Now, I go through phases with fiction and creative non-fiction. Creative non-fiction is such an interesting genre; it’s like using found objects to do art; the restrictions that it presents can force you to be creative. But as much as I enjoy it I think I have a slight preference toward fiction; I love being able to create an imaginary world and live in it for a while.

AB: Why did you decide to move from Israel to Canada?

AT: It was never a decision, really, more like chance. In my early twenties I traveled a lot. In one of my trips to India I met a Canadian guy. We fell in love and after living together in Israel for a while we moved to Vancouver. I never thought I’d stay for as long as I did, especially since the relationship didn’t last. I love Israel and had always pictured myself living there. If you told me back then that I’d end up living in Canada for thirteen years I’d never have believed you. Just as I would have never believed that I’d be writing in English one day, because I have such a strong connection to the Hebrew language. But I am glad that life brought me here: Canada has been wonderful to me and I’m happy to be living here.

AB: You have directed two documentaries. How was the experiencing telling a story through film different than writing?

AT: I enjoyed making films. I am a very visual person: I am a passionate photographer and I do some photography work, mostly headshots for other authors! But looking back, I wonder if my interest in film was born out of constraint. When I first moved here I couldn’t imagine writing in English and felt frustrated that my one skill was non-transferable. Since I had always loved photography I signed up for media studies and found in film a new language to tell stories. For that time in my life, it was perfect.

AB: Do you intend to continue working in film?

Film to be Made about Jonathan Pollard Film to be Made about Jonathan Pollard TrendingWATCH: Jon Stewart Addresses Uproar over his "Secret" Meeting with President Obama WATCH: Jon Stewart Addresses Uproar over his "Secret" Meeting with President Obama TrendingWATCH: Viral Video of Israeli Father Shaving his Beard for First Time in 14 Years WATCH: Viral Video of Israeli Father Shaving his Beard for First Time in 14 Years Trending
 

Anti-Violence Rallies Taking Place Across Israel Today

August 01, 2015 | By Noam 'Dabul' Dvir, Roi Yanovsky, Ahiya Raved, and Gilad Morag
Anti-Violence Rallies Taking Place Across Israel Today

Following two blood-soaked days, in which a Palestinian infant was killed and his parents and sibling were critically wounded in a fire and six people were hurt in a stabbing at Jerusalem's gay pride parade, thousands are expected to protest in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa

Read More

Report: 53% Rise in Anti-Semitic Incidents in the UK

August 01, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Report: 53% Rise in Anti-Semitic Incidents in the UK

Government officials are speaking out against anti-Semitism after new report finds rapid increase in anti-Semitic incidents

Read More

Film to be Made about Jonathan Pollard

August 01, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Film to be Made about Jonathan Pollard

The American jailed for passing sensitive information to Israel will have his story adapted for the big screen

Read More

Over 100 Jewish Gravestones Toppled in Philadelphia

August 01, 2015 | By Maria Cruz
Over 100 Jewish Gravestones Toppled in Philadelphia

Some of the headstones date back 160 years

Read More

Woody Allen Speaks Out About Netanyahu

August 01, 2015 | By Maria Cruz
Woody Allen Speaks Out About Netanyahu

The director thinks the Prime Minister's decision on Iran deal could be "foolish"

Read More

WATCH: Jon Stewart Addresses Uproar over his "Secret" Meeting with President Obama

July 30, 2015 | By Daina Goldfinger
WATCH: Jon Stewart Addresses Uproar over his "Secret" Meeting with President Obama

"Something is not a secret just because you don't know about it"

Read More

Canadian Couple: Killing Young Jews Will Save Them from Hell

July 30, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Canadian Couple: Killing Young Jews Will Save Them from Hell

The couple, convicted of trying to bomb the British Columbia Legislature, hoped to save Jews from growing up and going to "eternal hell"

Read More

WATCH: Viral Video of Israeli Father Shaving his Beard for First Time in 14 Years

July 30, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
WATCH: Viral Video of Israeli Father Shaving his Beard for First Time in 14 Years

People are going crazy for this family's reaction to a man named Mooki shaving his beard

Read More

More Headlines