The Art of Leaving by Ayelet Tsabari
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.
“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.” - Alison Pick, author of Between Gods: A Memoir and Strangers Within the Same Dream
“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.” - Kamal Al-Solaylee, award-winning author of Intolerable and Brown
“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.” - Camilla Gibb, author of This is Happy and The Beauty of Humanity Movement
“Candid, affecting . . . [Ayelet Tsabari’s] linked essays cohere into a tender, moving memoir.” - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“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.” - Kyo Maclear, author of Birds Art Life
“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.” - Mandy Len Catron, author of How to Fall in Love with Anyone
“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.” - Ivan Coyote, author of Tomboy Survival Guide and Rebent Sinner
“Insightful. . . Readers will be moved by Tsabari’s colorful, intimate memoir.” - Publishers Weekly
“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.” - Quill & Quire