Anita Diamant, author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, Visits Amherst

On July 19, 2011, Great Books was pleased to welcome New York Times best selling author, Anita Diamant at Amherst College.  Ms. Diamant, who began her career as a freelance journalist, now writes both fiction and non-fiction.  Some of her best-known works include The Red Tent, The New Jewish Wedding, and Day after Night.   The majority of the evening was conducted in an interview format, between Great Books’ Ilan Stavans and Anita Diamant.  After the interview concluded, Ms. Diamant was willing to answer numerous questions posed by the curious Great Books students.

Ms. Diamant began by talking about her journey and aspirations as a writer.  Although Diamant dreamed of becoming an actress as a child, she first achieved success as a sports journalist.  After Diamant spent many years as a journalist, she decided to move to the new genre of fiction.  Although Diamant claimed that fiction is a greater personal challenge, her 1997 novel, The Red Tent became a New York Times bestseller.  Through fiction, she asserted that she enjoyed giving a voice to weaker, under-represented members of society.   Ms. Diamant also discussed the significance of religion in her life and works.   As a daughter of two Holocaust survivors, Diamant admitted that religion did not play a large role in her life.  However, faith and the Bible have certainly played a significant role in Diamant’s literary works.  Ms. Diamant explained that she views the Bible as more a “sacred myth,” rather than truth, which is how she was able to use the Bible as the basis for her novel, The Red Tent.

All members of the Great Books Summer Program community thoroughly enjoyed Diamant’s knowledge and expertise.  As a conclusion, one Great Books student asked the guest about the best and worst parts of being a writer.  Best part?  “An enormous amount of freedom,” replied Anita Diamant.  Worst part?  “Writing…”

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