Red Tent (Diamant) - Author Bio

Author Bio  
Birth—June 27, 1951
Where—New York, New York, USA
Education—B.A., Washington University; M.A., State
   University of New York, Binghamton
Currently—lives in Boston, Massachusetts

Anita Diamant is a prize-winning journalist whose work has appeared regularly in the Boston Globe Magazine and Parenting magazine. She is the author of five books about contemporary Jewish practice: Choosing a Jewish Life, Bible Baby Names, The New Jewish Baby Book, The New Jewish Wedding, and Living a Jewish Life (with H. Cooper). She lives in West Newton, MA, with her husband and daughter, Emilia, to whom the book is dedicated.

Diamant says it was the relationship between Leah and Rachel that stimulated her thinking about The Red Tent.

The Biblical story that pits the two sisters against one another never sat right with me. The traditional view of Leah as the ugly and/or spiteful sister, and of Jacob as indifferent to her, seemed odd in light of the fact that the Bible gives them nine children together.... As I re-read Genesis over the years, I settled on the story of Dinah, their daughter. The drama and her total silence (Dinah does not utter a single word in the Bible) cried out for explanation, and I decided to imagine one.

Aiding her work was "midrash," the ancient and still vital literary form, which means "search" or "investigation."

Historically, the rabbis used this highly imaginative form of storytelling to make sense of the elliptical nature of the Bible-to explain, for example, why Cain killed Abel...The compressed stories and images in the Bible are rather like photographs. They don't tell us everything we want or need to know. Midrash is the story about what happened before and after the photographic flash.

She points out that...

The Red Tent is not a translation but a work of fiction. Its perspective and focus-by and about the female characters-distinguishes it from the Biblical account in which women are usually peripheral and often totally silent. By giving Dinah a voice and by providing texture and content to the sketchy Biblical descriptions, my book is a radical departure from the historical text.

From a 2003 Barnes & Noble interview:

• I would like to pay tribute to my writing group: Stephen McCauley (The Object of My Affection) and Amy Hoffman (Hospital Time, a memoir). Steve and Amy kept me sane through the writing and rewriting (and rewriting) of The Last Days of Dogtown.

• My writing group meets approximately once a month. We share our chapters, we commiserate about the difficulties of the business of writing. And we keep each other from throwing in the towel, which often feels like the only reasonable choice.

• I'm nuts about my dog, a miniature Schnauzer named Buddy. He is my exercise machine, but more than that, he is a dependable antidote to the mopes. Dogs are always in a good mood.I think that yoga is the alternative to aging. I've been taking classes for more than ten years, and while I consider myself a beginner, yoga is crucial to my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. I wish there were yoga classes in airports, high schools, hospitals—wherever stress abides.

• When asked what book most influenced her career in writing, her is her response:

The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher. My non-fiction heroine, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, wrote more than 26 books—most of which are about the pleasures of the table. Responding to questions about why her subject was food rather than loftier topics, Fisher (1908 - 1992) wrote, "It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others." For Fisher, eating was a metaphor for everything that is most important in life, and she ate reverently, ravenously, and with exquisite attention to what was on her plate. She is often credited with inventing the genre known as "food writing," but this prose master defies categorization. I should only write so well, eat so well, live so well. She inspired me as a journalist, as a non-fiction writer, and as a prose stylist. (Author bio and intervciew from Barnes & Noble.)

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