An Interview with Our New Writer in Residence, Ayelet Tsabari
Photo credit: Jonathan Bloom
Ayelet Tsabari's debut story collection "The Best Place on Earth" won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and was long-listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Her memoir in essays, The Art of Leaving, is due to be published in 2019 with HarperCollins Canada. Excerpts from the book have already won a National Magazine Award, a Western Magazine Award and an Edna Staebler Award.
We asked Ayelet to tell us a bit about herself.
What are your favourite TPL branches to visit and why?
I love the Bloor/Gladstone branch because it’s in my neighbourhood and it has a great children’s area for my kid. It’s also beautiful. I love visiting the (Toronto) Reference Library and attending literary events there. It is such a stunning space and walking in always feels awe-inspiring to me.
How do you use your local library?
I order books online (place a hold) through the library’s website, and every now and then I go through periods of incessant ordering, which inevitably results in me borrowing more books than I could read. My kid and I go to the library at least once a week to just hang out, play and read books, and sometimes I steal some moments to read while I’m there. Once, I even got to read an entire book (a slim poetry book) while my kid was playing. Recently I discovered OverDrive and I absolutely love it. It lets me read library books wherever I am, without having to carry a book with me. I use it often, especially on the subway, on planes, and while waiting in lineups.
Tell us a little about some of your favourite books/authors.
Where do I start? I’m a fan of many transnational writers such as Chimamanda Adichie Nguzi, Jhumpa Lahiri, Rohinton Mistry and Junot Diaz to name a few. Since the focus of my residency is memoirs, this year I really enjoyed Kyo Mclear’s "Birds Art Life" and Ivan E Coyote’s "The Tomboy Survival Guide", and two forthcoming memoirs, "End of the Rope" by Jan Redford and Dear Current Occupant by Chelene Knight (who will be part of Ayelet's Writing Memoir program in April).
What are you most looking forward to as TPL writer in residence?
Meeting and working with the community. I owe a lot of my success to my writing community and supportive mentors, so this is a chance for me to pay it forward. I’m excited about the drop-in workshops for immigrants and I hope that many newcomers will take advantage of them. Also, being surrounded by so many books while writing is thrilling. I am convinced that it will make me produce better work.
Besides writing and teaching writing, what are some of your other passions?
I have been known to draw comics every now and then. I am an avid photographer. I love cooking and baking. I am also fond of swimming in warm water.