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The Red Tent

The Red Tent

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By (author) Anita Diamant

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  • Publisher: St Martin's Press
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 229mm x 25mm | 658g
  • Publication date: 22 March 1999
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0312195516
  • ISBN 13: 9780312195519
  • Sales rank: 174,820

Product description

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood--the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, "The Red Tent" combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women's society.

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Author information

Anita Diamant is an award-winning journalist and author of five books about contemporary Jewish life including "The New Jewish Wedding" and "Choosing a Jewish Life: Guidebook for People Converting to Judaism and for their Family and Friends." She lives in Newton, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter.

Review quote

"Diamant vividly conjures up the ancient world of caravans, shepherds, farmers, midwives, slaves, and artisans . . . her Dinah is a compelling narrator that has timeless resonance."--Merle Rubin, " Christian Science Monitor""An intense, vivid novel . . . It is tempting to say that "The Red Tent" is what the Bible would be like if it had been written by women, but only Diamant could have given it such sweep and grace.""--The Boston Globe""The best fiction reporters create a world and bathe us in its sounds and sights, its language and climate, the intricate relationships among its inhabitants. Anita Diamant has performed this wondrous craft: She has brought forth one of those books that appear effortless precisely because the writer has pondered even the length of breath between each character's words . . . This earthy, passionate tale, told also with great delicacy, is, quite simply, a great read."--Jane Redmont, "National Catholic Reporter""By giving a voice to Dinah, one of the silent female characters in Genesis, the novel has struck a chord with women who may have felt left out of biblical history. It celebrates mothers and daughters and the mysteries of the life cycle.""--The Los Angeles Times""A richly imagined world . . . Paints a vivid picture of what women's society might have resembled during biblical times. Although it is a novel, it is also an extended "midrash" or exegesis--filling in gaps left by the biblical text.""--Jewish Times""[A] vivid evocation of the world of Old Testament women . . . The red tent becomes a symbol of womanly strength, love, and wisdom . . . Diamant succeeds admirably in depicting the lives of women in the age that engendered our civilization and our most enduring values.""--Publishers Weekly""The oldest story of all could never seem more original, more true."--James Carroll, author of "An American Requiem"

Editorial reviews

Cubits beyond most Woman-of-the-Bible sagas in sweep and vigor, this fictive flight based on the Genesis mention of Dinah, offspring of Jacob and Leah, disclaims her as a mere "defiled" victim and, further, celebrates the ancient continuity and unity of women. Dinah was the cherished only daughter of "four mothers," all of whom bore sons by Jacob. It is through daughters, though, that the songs, stories, and wisdom of the mothers and grandmothers are remembered. Dinah tells the mothers' tales from the time that that shaggy stranger Jacob appears in the land of his distant kin Laban. There are Jacob's marriages to the beautiful Rachel and the competent Leah, "reeking of bread and comfort." Also bedded are Zilpah, a goddess worshipper who has little use for men, and tiny, dark, and silent Bilhah. Hard-working Jacob is considerate to the equally hardworking women, who, in the "red tent" - where they're sequestered at times of monthly cycles, birthing, and illness - take comfort and courage from one another and household gods. The trek to Canaan, after Jacob outwits Laban, offers Dinah wonders, from that "time out of life" when the traveling men and women laugh and sing together, on to Dinah's first scent of a great river, "heady as incense, heavy and dark." She observes the odd reunion of Jacob and Esau, meets her cruel and proud grandmother, and celebrates the women's rite of maturity. She also loves passionately the handsome Prince Shalem, who expects to marry her. Dinah's tale then follows the biblical account as Jacob's sons trick and then slaughter a kingdom. Diamant's Dinah, mad with grief, flees to Egypt, gives birth to a son, suffers, and eventually finds love and peace. With stirring scenery and a narrative of force and color, a readable tale marked by hortatory fulminations and voluptuous lamentations. For a liberal Bible audience with a possible spillover to the Bradley relationship. (Kirkus Reviews)