Award-winning Israeli writer will be Na'amat event's keynote speaker

April 2024
Phyllis Shragge

Na'amat Hamilton's 38th annual celebrity author event will showcase writer Ayelet Tsabari, author of a memoir in essays, The Art of Leaving. The event will be in conversation format on Zoom at noon ET on Wednesday, June 19.

Tsabari’s memoir is the winner of the Canadian Jewish Literary Awards and was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature. It was also an Apple Books, CBC Books and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2019.  

The Art of Leaving tells of the Israeli-Canadian writer's travels from New York to India, searching for love and belonging and an escape from grief following the death of her father when she was a young girl. With fierce, emotional prose, she crafts a beautiful meditation about the lengths we will travel to try to escape our grief, the universal search to find a place where we belong and the sense of home we eventually find within ourselves.

This searching collection opens with the death of Tsabari’s father when she was just nine years old. His passing left her feeling rootless, devastated and driven to question her complex identity as an Israeli of Yemeni descent in a country that suppressed and devalued her ancestors’ traditions. 

Tsabari details her early love of writing and words  and her rebellion during her mandatory service in the Israeli army. She travels from Israel to New York, Canada, Thailand and India, falling in and out of love with countries, men and women, drugs and alcohol, running away from responsibilities and refusing to settle in one place. She recounts her first marriage; her struggle to define herself as a writer in a new language; her decision to become a mother; and finally, her rediscovery and embrace of her family history—a history marked by generations of headstrong women who struggled to choose between their hearts and their homes. Eventually, she realizes that she must reconcile the memories of her father and the sadness of her past if she is ever going to come to terms with herself.

Of the book, the New York Times Book Review said, “Stunning…The self she portrays is complicatedly flawed, human and aware…Tsabari’s intense prose gave me pause.”  Allison Pick, author of Between Gods, praised the book, saying, “…nuanced, complex, and beautiful.  These essays are timely and urgent, and they’ve been polished ‘til they shine.” While author Cynthia Gibbs, whose work includes This is Happy, wrote, “…a passionate account of the pain, fire and fury of adolescence and young adulthood.”

Tsabari’s first book, The Best Place on Earth, won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for Jewish fiction. The book was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, Kirkus Review’s Best Debut Fiction of 2016, was nominated for The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and has been published internationally to great acclaim. Her first novel, Songs for the Brokenhearted, will be published by HarperCollins in September.

Tsabari studied film and photography in Capilano University’s media program in Vancouver, where she directed two documentary films, one of which won an award at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival. She wrote her first story in English in 2006.

A graduate of Simon Fraser University’s writer’s studio and the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Guelph, Tsabari teaches at the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Guelph, at University of King’s College MFA in creative nonfiction and the Shaindy Rudoff graduate track in creative writing in Bar Ilan University. She currently lives in Israel.

The June 19 event will feature Tsabari in conversation with Lishai Peel, a Na’amat member and Hamilton’s Poet in Place. Na’amat Hamilton is encouraging people to consider “watch parties” with friends or neighbours to make this fourth virtual event a social experience.  

Na’amat is a non-profit charitable organization whose mission is to enhance and safeguard the status of women, children and families in Israel and Canada.  Na’amat programs in Israel provide shelters for abused women and children, legal counselling, recreational and retraining programs, and a countrywide network of daycare centres.

Tickets for the virtual author event are $28 and tax receipts will be provided.  Tickets will be available at