Acclaimed author will talk about her most recent novel, Day After Night, a story of four women in a British internment camp in Palestine after World War II
By ERIN ELLIOTT BRYAN / Community News Editor Hillel, the Jewish Student Center at the University of Minnesota, will welcome bestselling author Anita Diamant to speak at its 2014 spring fundraiser on Sunday, May 4 at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park.
Diamant will speak about her newest novel, Day After Night, and participate in a question-and-answer session with Star Tribune columnist Gail Rosenblum. A lunch will precede the program, which will honor couples who met at Hillel.
“I’ve been asked to speak about Day After Night, my most recent novel, which was published a few years ago,” Diamant told the AJW. “It’s a novel that’s set in 1945, right after World War II, in an internment camp in Palestine where Jews without the right papers were interned by the British, usually for very short periods of time. But it was very traumatic for some of those people who had been in barbed wire-fenced camps to be put in another one.”
The novel is based on the true story of the escape from the Atlit detention camp, which was classified as a military victory, but was a signal event in the fight for Israeli independence. Diamant’s novel, however, focuses on the experiences of four women in the camp and makes no “global statements” about politics.
“Their concerns would be much closer to the ground, about where am I going and what am I doing here, and learning Hebrew and eating food that’s totally unfamiliar,” Diamant said.
Diamant’s focused point of view from the women in a story is a recurring theme in her work, including her 1997 bestselling novel The Red Tent, which fleshes out the biblical character of Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob, and sister of Joseph. She said she writes from the perspective of characters who “generally don’t make it into history books.”
“It’s really about their untold stories,” Diamant said of her characters. “It’s a great opportunity for a writer to tell an untold story. It’s a field that hasn’t been plowed before.”
Diamant began her career when she says she “stumbled into a journalism career” and later freelanced for women’s and parenting magazines. She has also written about Jewish practice and the Jewish community for Reform Judaism magazine, Hadassah magazine and jewishfamily.com.
When Diamant, a self-described “20th century feminist Jew,” was preparing to marry her husband, a Jew by choice, she asked the rabbi what books she should read.
“[The rabbi] said, ‘You should write a book, because the books aren’t going to help you,’” Diamant said. “None of those books, mostly written by very traditional rabbis, spoke to the way I understood the world or my family needs.”
Diamant’s first book was The New Jewish Wedding, which she followed up with The New Jewish Baby Book. She went on to write several other guidebooks to Jewish life and lifecycle events, before branching out into fiction with The Red Tent.
Diamant noted that her appearance at Hillel is not a reading, but those who are interested in her work can take part in the focused conversation and Q&A.
“I think it’s going to be an interesting afternoon,” Diamant said.
All proceeds will benefit Hillel and the continuation of the vibrant Jewish student life on the University of Minnesota campus and surrounding Minnesota schools.
Hillel’s 2014 spring fundraiser, featuring author Anita Diamant, will take place on Sunday, May 4 at Beth El Synagogue, 5225 Barry St. W., St. Louis Park. Lunch will begin at 12 p.m., followed by the event at 1:30 p.m. For tickets and information, visit: www.hillelumn.org or contact Andrea Golden at 612-379-4026. (American Jewish World, 4.25.14)
Since 1912 the AJW has served as an important news resource for the Jewish community. The Jewish World unites the main Jewish communities in St. Paul and Minneapolis, as well as those in Duluth, Rochester and smaller cities, and bridges the divides between the various Jewish religious streams.