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The Art of Leaving
Cover of The Art of Leaving
The Art of Leaving
A Memoir
Borrow Borrow

WINNER OF THE CANADIAN JEWISH LITERARY AWARD FOR MEMOIR

FINALIST FOR THE HILARY WESTON WRITERS' TRUST PRIZE FOR NONFICTION

An unforgettable memoir about a young woman who tries to outrun loss, but eventually finds a way home.

Ayelet Tsabari was 21 years old the first time she left Tel Aviv with no plans to return. Restless after two turbulent mandatory years in the Israel Defense Forces, Tsabari longed to get away. It was not the never-ending conflict that drove her, but the grief that had shaken the foundations of her home. The loss of Tsabari's beloved father in years past had left her alienated and exiled within her own large Yemeni family and at odds with her Mizrahi identity. By leaving, she would be free to reinvent herself and to rewrite her own story.

For nearly a decade, Tsabari travelled, through India, Europe, the US and Canada, as though her life might go stagnant without perpetual motion. She moved fast and often because—as in the Intifada—it was safer to keep going than to stand still. Soon the act of leaving—jobs, friends and relationships—came to feel most like home.

But a series of dramatic events forced Tsabari to examine her choices and her feelings of longing and displacement. By periodically returning to Israel, Tsabari began to examine her Jewish-Yemeni background and the Mizrahi identity she had once rejected, as well as unearthing a family history that had been untold for years. What she found resonated deeply with her own immigrant experience and struggles with new motherhood.

Beautifully written, frank and poignant, The Art of Leaving is a courageous coming-of-age story that reflects on identity and belonging and that explores themes of family and home—both inherited and chosen.

WINNER OF THE CANADIAN JEWISH LITERARY AWARD FOR MEMOIR

FINALIST FOR THE HILARY WESTON WRITERS' TRUST PRIZE FOR NONFICTION

An unforgettable memoir about a young woman who tries to outrun loss, but eventually finds a way home.

Ayelet Tsabari was 21 years old the first time she left Tel Aviv with no plans to return. Restless after two turbulent mandatory years in the Israel Defense Forces, Tsabari longed to get away. It was not the never-ending conflict that drove her, but the grief that had shaken the foundations of her home. The loss of Tsabari's beloved father in years past had left her alienated and exiled within her own large Yemeni family and at odds with her Mizrahi identity. By leaving, she would be free to reinvent herself and to rewrite her own story.

For nearly a decade, Tsabari travelled, through India, Europe, the US and Canada, as though her life might go stagnant without perpetual motion. She moved fast and often because—as in the Intifada—it was safer to keep going than to stand still. Soon the act of leaving—jobs, friends and relationships—came to feel most like home.

But a series of dramatic events forced Tsabari to examine her choices and her feelings of longing and displacement. By periodically returning to Israel, Tsabari began to examine her Jewish-Yemeni background and the Mizrahi identity she had once rejected, as well as unearthing a family history that had been untold for years. What she found resonated deeply with her own immigrant experience and struggles with new motherhood.

Beautifully written, frank and poignant, The Art of Leaving is a courageous coming-of-age story that reflects on identity and belonging and that explores themes of family and home—both inherited and chosen.
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About the Author-
  • AYELET TSABARI's debut story collection, The Best Place on Earth, won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award. The book was a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, was a Kirkus Reviews Best Book, was nominated for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and has been published internationally to great acclaim. Excerpts from The Art of Leaving have won a National Magazine Award, a Western Magazine Award and an Edna Staebler Award. She is the recipient of a Chalmers Arts Fellowship and a graduate of both the Writer's Studio at Simon Fraser University and the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph. Tsabari teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Education.

Reviews-
  • New York Times Book Review "The Art of Leaving is, in large part, about what is passed down to us, and how we react to whatever it is. . . . [It] is not self-help—we cannot become whatever we put our mind to—yet it suggests that we can begin to heal from what has broken us, if we only let ourselves. . . . Tsabari's intense prose gave me pause."
  • Shelf Awareness (starred review) "Told in a series of fierce, unflinching essays . . . an Israeli Canadian author explores her upbringing and the death of her father in this stark, beautiful memoir."
  • Alison Pick, author of Between Gods: A Memoir and Strangers Within the Same Dream "In The Art of Leaving, Ayelet Tsabari excavates the dark loam of her memory, unearthing treasure after treasure. Her discoveries are nuanced, complex, and beautiful. These essays are timely and urgent, and they've been polished 'til they shine."
  • Kamal Al-Solaylee, award-winning author of Intolerable and Brown "Ayelet Tsabari has written a beautiful, complex and emotionally breathtaking memoir. . . . The Art of Leaving is a marvel of a book, at once tender and fearless, from a writer at the peak of her creative powers."
  • Camilla Gibb, author of This is Happy and The Beauty of Humanity Movement "Ayelet Tsabari's memoir is a passionate account of the pain, fire and fury of adolescence and young adulthood, the search for a sense of belonging and reconciling the disparate part of our lives and ultimately ourselves."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Candid, affecting . . . [Ayelet Tsabari's] linked essays cohere into a tender, moving memoir."
  • Kyo Maclear, author of Birds Art Life "Ayelet Tsabari is a fierce-tender writer. Her work is an enchanting mix of vivid anecdote and vigorous insight—spanning generations and geographies, glittering with humour and heart."
  • Mandy Len Catron, author of How to Fall in Love with Anyone "Long after finishing The Art of Leaving, I'm still craving adventure, and still thinking through Tasbari's nuanced reflections on what it means to be a mother and a wanderer in a world that says women can't be both."
  • Ivan Coyote, author of Tomboy Survival Guide and Rebent Sinner "Tsabari is in prime form, capturing in mercilessly precise prose hard-to-do-justice-to feelings. . . . This is a writer who is capable of holding your throbbing heart in one hand while pressing the tip of her pen to your jugular with the other."
  • Publishers Weekly "Insightful. . . Readers will be moved by Tsabari's colorful, intimate memoir."
  • Hello Giggles "The Art of Leaving will take you on an emotional journey you won't soon forget."
  • Quill & Quire "The Art of Leaving deftly illustrates the ways home can be any or all of the above, simultaneously or at different times in our lives. The book pushes readers to examine their own personal and political histories and to question the ways those histories fit into a bigger, global picture."
  • Canadian Jewish News "Superb. . . . deep in meaning, rich in imagery and continuously engaging."
  • Winnipeg Free Press "Impressive... Brutally honest... Smart, sad and sincere...The characters imagined by Tsabari are achingly human and almost flawlessly fashioned."
  • CBC Books’ Writers to Watch "The best place on Earth is wherever you are reading Ayelet Tsabari's debut short story collection. Filled with vivid characters and compelling storytelling."
  • Daily Beast "Powerful... Brilliant... The stories depict minorities so skillfully, with such a light and accurate touch."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Stunning... Tsabari creates complex, conflicted, prickly people you'll want to get to know better."
  • Toronto Star "Tsabari's characters represent the complexities that really define Israel, the...
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A Memoir
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