The Best Place on Earth (26 page)

“I’m thinking maybe I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.” She leaned her head back and beamed at Naomi, and as they sat there side by side in the dark cab, Naomi felt an intimacy she’d been missing in her friendships, which over the years, with marriage and children, had turned into calculated meetings over salads and cappuccinos.
It had been so long since she’d felt this close to anybody, even Ami. They’d gotten caught up in the routine of everyday life, kids, mortgage, bills, work. Somewhere along the way somebody had turned on the autopilot and they hadn’t even noticed.

“You can’t break up with Ami,” Tamar said, as though she could read her thoughts.

Naomi looked at her sister and sighed. She was so tired of hating him. It took such effort and it was wearing her out.

“You guys are my rock,” Tamar said. “You’re the story I tell whenever people say marriage doesn’t work. You’re my only proof, my happy ending.”

“So you want me to stay with him for your sake,” Naomi said.

Tamar grinned. “Well, yeah.”

Naomi smiled, swallowing her tears. “I’ll see what I can do.”

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I am immensely grateful
to Camilla Gibb, who mentored, inspired and guided me throughout the writing of this book with the utmost commitment and dedication.

Thank you to Jane Warren, my editor at HarperCollins Canada, for her enthusiasm, and to Iris Tupholme and everyone at HarperCollins for believing in this book.

My first readers, Sean Brereton, Eufemia Fantetti and Becky Blake, read numerous drafts and provided useful feedback and some tough love. Thanks also to the following readers: Anna Chatterton, Janet Hong, Jan Redford, Nazanine Hozar, Amanda Leduc, Kathy Friedman, Leslie Hill, Clarissa Green, Rachel Knudsen, Alev Ersan and Hilda Ragnars (my very first reader in English). Love and thanks to my friends in Israel, Vancouver, Toronto and elsewhere for being supportive, encouraging and generally awesome.

I was fortunate to be a part of the MFA Program at the University of Guelph, where I wrote this collection as my thesis. Thank you to my classmates and teachers, especially Catherine Bush and Russell Smith. I’m greatly indebted to Betsy Warland and Wayde Compton, my mentors in Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio, and to the TWS community. I also extend my gratitude to the Canada Council for the Arts for their generous assistance, and to the editors of
Grain
and
Prairie Fire
for publishing “Warplanes” and “The Poets in the Kitchen Window,” respectively.

Love and thanks to my family: my four brothers and my sister for their everlasting faith in me; my mother for the love and the food; and my father, a poet in his own right, who once promised me he would publish my first book but passed away before he had the chance. This book is in his memory.

And finally, to Sean, ahuvi hanitzhi. I couldn’t have done any of this without you. This book is for you.

Praise

“Frank, bold, sexy, Ayelet Tsabari’s voice astonishes with its vitality.
The Best Place on Earth
offers stories of love and displacement set against a backdrop of military conflict, told through the lens of being young and Israeli of Middle Eastern descent. These tales feel torn from the heart.”
—CATHERINE BUSH, author of
Claire’s Head and The Rules of Engagement

“The most restrictive border may be the most primary one—the distance between two human minds; between one person’s inner world and the subjective life of another. Ayelet Tsabari shows us literature’s power to cross this essential divide, and to shatter simplistic notions that tempt us when we think in cultural, regional or historical terms. This book marks the debut of a brilliant and ambitious literary voice, and Tsabari’s rich and subtle fiction gives us the world as it is—complexly multicultural, messily beautiful and painfully sublime.”
—WAYDE COMPTON, author of
After Canaan

“Tsabari’s debut collection is cinematic. Her vivid descriptions and insights on the intersections of love, hope and war are thought-provoking and challenge the reader to engage with a conflicted world with a new understanding.”
—GURJINDER BASRAN, author of
Everything Was Good-bye

“Stories are survival. Fiercely alert, Tsabari’s Israeli-Mizrahi-inspired stories—where nothing is a given—deserve our fierce attention. Her deft evoking of the sensate vibrancy of Israeli daily life locates us inside its very vectors of violence and intimacy. There is no turning away. Elating, wrenching, The Best Place on Earth is on the cutting edge of our literature; our deeper comprehension of global life.”
—BETSY WARLAND, author of
Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing

“Tsabari’s stories pulse with raw energy.”
—NANCY RICHLER, author of
The Imposter Bride

Copyright

The Best Place on Earth
Copyright © 2013 by Ayelet Tsabari.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

EPub Edition © FEBRUARY 2013 ISBN: 978-1-4434-1197-4

Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

FIRST CANADIAN EDITION

The stories “The Poets in the Kitchen Window” and “Warplanes” were previously published in
Prairie Fire
and
Grain
magazine, respectively.

The author gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.

HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
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Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication information is available upon request

ISBN 978-1-44341-195-0

RRD 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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