Anita Diamant is best known for The Red Tent, a feminist novel set in ancient times and a word-of-mouth publishing phenomenon that became a favorite of book clubs and church groups. Diamant’s early childhood was spent in Newark, New Jersey, but her family moved to Denver, Colorado, when she was twelve years old. She received a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from Washington University in St. Louis and earned a master’s degree in English from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1975. Diamant then moved to the Boston area, where she married Jim Ball in 1983 and gave birth to a daughter, Emilia.
Although she had demonstrated an earlier interest in poetry, Diamant’s career turned in the direction of journalism, and she began to work as a freelance journalist in the Boston area, writing for many local and national magazines and newspapers on a variety of topics. She received several awards for her work in journalism, including the New England Women’s Press Associations Best Columnist Award in 1982. In 1985 Diamant began to write about modern Jewish practice and various aspects of Jewish life.
After producing nonfiction works for more than twenty years, however, Diamant turned back to her early interest in imaginative writing, choosing the novel form as a new avenue of expression and selecting a topic related to her previous subject of Jewish issues, namely chapter 34 in the biblical book of Genesis, concerning the rape of Dinah. Granted a fellowship at Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library and a visiting scholarship at Brandeis University in 1994-1995, Diamant spent the year researching women’s lives thirty-five hundred years ago, especially the domestic details of daily life involving food, clothing, work, midwifery, healing, and kinship. Diamant added her own imaginative speculations to the material she gathered and, in addition, included an emphasis on contemporary women’s spirituality that was also a product of her year’s research. As with her other work, Diamant combined her interest in Judaism and...
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