The University of Guelph community offers its heartfelt congratulations to program graduate, Ayelet Tsabari, winner of the 2015 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for her short story collection The Best Place On Earth (HarperCollins Canada), which was written as her MFA thesis project.
An award of $100,000, the Sami Rohr Prize honours emerging writers who explore the Jewish experience in a specific work of fiction. The author’s potential to make significant contributions to Jewish literature is a primary factor in the award.
In The Best Place on Earth, Ayelet explores Israeli history through characters of Mizrahi background (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent) that are at the crossroads of nationalities, religions, and communities. “I grew up not seeing myself and my family in literature, so writing The Best Place on Earth was a way to create the characters that were missing from my childhood stories,” says Tsabari. “By portraying characters of Mizrahi background I was hoping to complicate readers' perceptions of Israel and Jewishness, and to expand and broaden their ideas of what a Jewish story and Jewish experience can be.”
The Rohr Prize has been given annually since 2007 and considers works of fiction and nonfiction in alternating years.