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Ayelet Tsabari

Acclaimed Israeli Author 

Ayelet Tsabari was born in Israel to a large family of Yemeni descent. She is the author of The Art of Leaving, winner of the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for memoir, finalist for the Writer’s Trust Hilary Weston Prize, and an Apple Books and Kirkus Review Best Book of 2019. Her first book, The Best Place on Earth, won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and was long listed to the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The book was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, a Kirkus Review Best Book of 2016, and has been published internationally. She’s the co-editor of the anthology Tongues: On Longing and Belonging Through Language. Her book Songs for the Brokenhearted is forthcoming in September 2024 from HarperCollins/RandomHouse.

Ayelet has taught creative writing at Guelph MFA in Creative Writing, The University of King’s College MFA, Tel Aviv University, and at Bar Ilan University.  


A young Yemeni Israeli woman learns of her mother’s secret romance in a dramatic journey through lost family stories, revealing the unbreakable bond between a mother and a daughter—the debut novel of an award-winning literary voice.


1950. Thousands of Yemeni Jews have immigrated to the newly founded Israel in search of a better life. In an overcrowded immigrant camp in Rosh Ha’ayin, Yaqub, a shy young man, happens upon Saida, a beautiful girl singing by the river. In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, they fall in love. But they weren’t supposed to; Saida is married and has a child, and a married woman has no place befriending another man.  


1995. Thirty-something Zohara, Saida’s daughter, has been living in New York City—a city that feels much less complicated than Israel, where she grew up wishing her skin were lighter, her illiterate mother’s Yemeni music quieter, and that the father who always favored her was alive. She hasn’t looked back since leaving home, rarely in touch with her mother or sister, Lizzie, and missing out on her nephew Yoni’s childhood. But when Lizzie calls to tell her their mother has died, she gets on a plane to Israel with no return ticket.   


Soon Zohara finds herself on an unexpected path that leads to shocking truths about her family—including dangers that lurk for impressionable young men and secrets that force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, her heritage, and her own future.

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Lecture Topics

* Language, Longing, and Belonging

*  On Being a Wandering Jew

*  Memoir, Fiction, and What’s in Between

*  The Art of Leaving

•  Songs for the Brokenhearted

Ayelet Tsabari

Ayelet Tsabari

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