Friday, October 16, 2009
Book Review: Day After Night
I haven't read anything by Anita Diamant since The Red Tent, which I absolutely loved. Browsing the "newly arrived" shelves last week at the library, I saw Day After Night and knew I must break my rule of reading books off my current TBR list (which I do frequently) and check it out.
The novel is based on the true story of an internment camp for "illegal" Jewish refugees after World War 2 and the daring rescue of the prisoners there. The whole concept of Atlit, the British-run camp in Palestine, was completely new to me. Even my Dad, who not only fought in WW2 but is an amazing historian, had never heard of Atlit. (Then again, my Dad is somewhat hard of hearing, so he may not have heard my question. Perhaps we'll discuss that later.) It is impossible to imagine the utter horror and disgrace of these Jews, who somehow managed to live through the Holocaust, having to endure yet more imprisonment when they thought they were starting new in Eretz Yisrael.
Diamant beautifully tells the story through the lives of four detainees, all who struggle with being random survivors while their friends and family were killed in the Holocaust: Zorah survived a concentration camp; Tedi survived by hiding in the countryside; Shayndel was a Polish Zionist; and Leonie has been forced into prostitution in Paris. While their stories unfold, the rescue plans are put into place.
I absolutely loved this book. Diamant is a fantastic storyteller, and she has a gift for giving voice to relatively obscure bits of history. I'm definitely going to go back and read Diamant's Last Days of Dogtown, which I missed.