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A Conversation with Ayelet Tsabari

A Conversation with Ayelet Tsabari

On Sunday, December 12, join a worldwide community of readers for a live online conversation with author Ayelet Tsabari

Ayelet Tsabari writes fiction that is global in its scope yet as intimate as a frank conversation with a friend. As Spertus Institute continues its Jewish Book Month tradition of bringing our community together to explore Jewish books and meet Jewish writers, Tsabari will be featured in a live online conversation you can join from anywhere, part of a series called Authors OutLoud.

A world traveler, Tsabari was born in Tel Aviv to a family of Yemeni descent. The characters in her books grapple with love, identity, and the challenges of balancing old traditions with modern times.

Ayelet Tsabari Books

In her newest novel, The Art of Leaving, the main character is Tsabari herself and the story is her own odyssey. As its chapters unfold, she hunts for Yemeni role models, mounts a personal insurrection against the constraints of the Israeli army, and (at least for a while) abdicates responsibilities and expectations. In North America, India, and Israel, she finds, loses, and finds love. She also finds her voice, fulfilling her childhood dream to be a writer. As readers, we get a candid, up-close view of the journey along the way.

The Art of Leaving won the Canadian Jewish Literary Awards. (Tsabari teaches creative writing at University of King’s College in Halifax and University of Guelph, Ontario.) It was featured in the New York Times Book Review Shortlist and named a Kirkus Review Best Book of the Year.

Tsabari’s debut novel, The Best Place on Earth, won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for Jewish Fiction. Like The Art of Leaving, it was praised by readers and critics and published internationally. Haaretz, in its review of the book’s eleven interconnected short stories, said, “Tsabari has created a new type of Jewish immigrant storytelling.”

A new anthology of essays edited by Tsabari with Leonarda Carranza and Eufemia Fantetti was just released. Called Tongues: On Longing and Belonging through Language, it features the work of 26 writers, including Tsabari, who write of the importance of language and identity.

The conversation with Ayelet Tsabari takes place Sunday, December 12 at 10 am CT. Tickets, which are $18 ($8 for students), are on sale through the Spertus Institute website at Program login information will be provided to ticket holders 48 hours in advance.

For the December 12 program, Ayelet Tsabari will be interviewed by Spertus Dean and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Keren E. Fraiman.

In speaking about why Tsabari was selected, Dr. Fraiman said, “This past year has brought conversations of diversity, privilege, and prejudice to the forefront in ways we haven’t seen in decades. With artistry, honesty, and ultimately hopefulness, Tsabari explores what it was like to grow up Yemini in Israel. Her stories are personal, about individual experiences, but the themes are universal. What is it like to have immigrant parents? To speak multiple languages or negotiate multiple cultures? When there aren’t people that look like us doing the things we dream to do, how can we forge new paths to find our way?” “

Spertus Institute presents authors because their stories shed light on Jewish experiences and the broader human condition,” she continued. “Tsabari’s stories undercover the diversity within the Jewish community. Her characters refuse to be defined by expectations, and in doing so, they challenge us to see each other as individuals, both unique and with shared humanity.”

This program is part of the Solomon Goldman Lecture Series, generously endowed by the late Rose and Sidney Shure. It is presented in partnership with the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest and the Consulate General of Canada in Chicago.

Jewish Chicago is the program’s media sponsor.

Spertus Institute is a partner with the Jewish United Fund in serving our community.

For media inquiries, contact Betsy Gomberg at

Sunday, November 14, 2021