Day After Night is based on the extraordinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than two hundred prisoners from the Atlit internment camp, a prison for "illegal" immigrants run by the British military near the Mediterranean coast north of Haifa. The story is told through the eyes of four young women at the camp with profoundly different stories. All of them survived the Holocaust: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist; Leonie, a Parisian beauty; Tedi, a hidden Dutch Jew; and Zorah, a concentration camp survivor. Haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, afraid to begin to hope, Shayndel, Leonie, Tedi, and Zorah find salvation in the bonds of friendship and shared experience even as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country.
This is an unforgettable story of tragedy and redemption, a novel that reimagines a moment in history with such stunning eloquence that we are haunted and moved by every devastating detail. Day After Night is a triumphant work of fiction.
"Diamant opens a window into a time of sadness, confusion and optimism that has resonance for so much that's both triumphant and troubling in modern Jewish history." - Publishers Weekly
"A warm, intensely human reckoning with unbearable sorrow and unquenchable hope." - Kirkus Reviews
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Rated of 5
Less After More
This book is wonderful to read for many reasons. The narrative flows brilliantly, like Diamant's usually does. The picture of bonding by strangers who have much to overcome is compelling. It's a lovely story though it is set against an ugly backdrop.
The title of the book, like the title of this review, evokes a divergence from recent, and currently traditional, depictions of the holocaust toward more gentle introductions to that horrible episode in history. It focuses on the beginning of something and points toward a better time to come.
While I might personally hope for something more developed in the way of characters and story, I believe this book, with a moderate style similar to the one found in "The Book Thief", might bring more readers to the genre than a story heavier on the truth of the horror of the holocaust and the aftermath might bring.
There was definitely opportunity to develop the characters - from whence they came especially, but also to where they went. There was also the opportunity to delve more fully into the early immigration of European Jews to Palestine and the difficulties they faced from Arabs and British alike, but that doesn't really seem to be what this book is about.
I believe the book is about healing, and a new beginning, and a focus on the future, set a very transitional and temporary present. The four main characters, as well as some of those on the periphery, begin to deal with and leave behind the past, form tenuous and transitory relationships in the present, then go on to a new life with a new permanence. We don't see very much of the past or the future in this offering - it is merely implied so, therefore, is known only by the reader through his independent knowledge. I don't necessarily think that diminishes it. I think it makes the book palatable to a wider audience. I HOPE it doesn't start a trend of diluting or redefining the holocaust, which needs to be remembered and never repeated.
Rated of 5
Good, but not great.
Anita Diamant's latest is a fast read and I found it reasonably enjoyable, but I left it feeling oddly disappointed. I thought she could have done so much more with her characters and with the history behind the events in her book. The book's four main heroines are somewhat flat and nearly interchangable. I think it's great that Diamant is bringing attention to a little-known event in world history, but for a richer understanding of it I'd point readers to the Leon Uris novel Exodus.
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 four novels, The Red Tent, Good Harbor, The Last Days of Dogtown and Day After Night. She is also 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 the Boston area with her husband and has one grown daughter, Emilia.
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