Sunday, September 29
Book Review: The Best Place on Earth
Author: Ayelet Tsabari
Summary: Confident, original and humane, the stories in The Best Place on Earth are peopled with characters at the crossroads of nationalities, religions and communities: expatriates, travellers, immigrants and locals.
In the powerfully affecting opening story, “Tikkun,” a chance meeting between a man and his former lover carries them through near tragedy and into unexpected peace. In “Casualties,” Tsabari takes us into the military—a world every Israeli knows all too well—with a brusque, sexy young female soldier who forges medical leave forms to make ends meet. Poets, soldiers, siblings and dissenters, the protagonists here are mostly Israelis of Mizrahi background (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent), whose stories have rarely been told in literature. In illustrating the lives of those whose identities swing from fiercely patriotic to powerfully global, The Best Place on Earth explores Israeli history as it illuminates the tenuous connections—forged, frayed and occasionally destroyed—between cultures, between generations and across the gulf of transformation and loss.
Say It Again, Say Something Else
Poets in the Kitchen Window
Below Sea Level
A Sign of Harmony
The Best Place on Earth
My Rating: 9.25/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: This book surprised me on how much I liked it, because in the beginning it had interested me, but I had my eyes set on a different collection. But the more I read it, the more I became immersed in the short stories and the characters in them. It became hard to put dow, and it was a book where I was torn from trying to devour it in a setting, to trying to savour it.
The author is a debut author, which I'm struggling with, because her writing style and ability to create such a full and developed short story was extraordinary - she writes at the level of a season author. The writing alone kept me invested in the book, plus to have such concrete and well rounded characters, along with the plots of the individual stories in the collection, it made for an excellent reading experience.
There were a handful of stories in this collection that I wanted more from. They had a full story to them of course, but they were written well enough, that I became invested in the characters and wanted just a little more to see how things had turned out for them. Poets in the Kitchen Window and Invisible, are two examples of this. They were two of my favourites, although I do have more, these two do stand out the most. Casualties and Warplanes also stick out for me, and the first story in the book, Tikkun, was also a very memorable one. From start to finish, this collection captures you, keeps you reading and leaves you wanting more.
A fantastic collection of short stories, which I'd highly recommend.
Would I recommend it to read: I would. This was a lovely collection of short stories, especially considering it was a debut. Any fan of short stories would enjoy this one, and I think a lot of those who are on the fence about short story collections would also find this collection to be well worth reading.
What to read next: I'd keep out a look out for more books by the author, Whirl Away would also be a good choice, and perhaps Lift Lightning.
Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge
*This book is part of an on-going theme I'm currently doing alongside the Giller Prize reading, titled Jules' Book Reviews Prize. Click Here for further details.