Day After Night

Day After Night

3.6 108
by Anita Diamant

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Anita Diamant's story of four women, refugees from Nazi Europe, who find friendship, love, and salvation in a post-war British camp in Palestine.
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Anita Diamant's story of four women, refugees from Nazi Europe, who find friendship, love, and salvation in a post-war British camp in Palestine.

Editorial Reviews

This striking novel by the author of The Red Tent is based on a dramatic true story: In October 1945, more than 200 "illegal immigrant" prisoners at the Atlit internment camp in Palestine were freed. The story of this rescue, the friendships it forged, and its aftermath is told through the words of four young women who at first seem to share little except their incarceration. Zorah is a concentration camp survivor; Leonie, a Parisian beauty; Shayndel, an ideological Polish Zionist; and Tedi, a formerly hidden Dutch Jew. As always, Anita Diamant constructs her plot with the dignity and moral force of a biblical story. Fiction that makes history real.

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Day After Night 1945, August
The nightmares made their rounds hours ago. The tossing and whimpering are over. Even the insomniacs have settled down. The twenty restless bodies rest, and faces aged by hunger, grief, and doubt relax to reveal the beauty and the pity of their youth. Not one of the women in Barrack C is twenty-one, but all of them are orphans.

Their cheeks press against small, military-issue pillows that smell of disinfectant. Lumpy and flat from long service under heavier heads, they bear no resemblance to the goose-down clouds that many of them enjoyed in childhood. And yet, the girls burrow into them with perfect contentment, embracing them like teddy bears. There were no pillows for them in the other barracks. No one gives a pillow to an animal.

The British built Atlit in 1938 to house their own troops. It was one in a group of bases, garages, and storage units set up on the coastal plains a few miles south of Haifa. But at the end of the world war, as European Jews began making their way to the ancestral homeland in violation of international political agreements, the mandate in Palestine became ever messier. Which is how it came to pass that Atlit was turned into a prison or, in the language of command, a “detention center” for refugees without permissory papers. The English arrested thousands as illegal immigrants, sent most of them to Atlit, but quickly set them free, like fish too small to fry.

It was a perfectly forgettable compound of wooden barracks and buildings set out in rows on a scant square acre surrounded by weeds and potato fields. But the place offered a grim welcome to the exhausted remnant of the Final Solution, who could barely see past its barbwire fences, three of them, in fact, concentric lines that scrawled a crabbed and painful hieroglyphic across the sky.

Not half a mile to the west of Atlit, the Mediterranean breaks against a rocky shore. When the surf is high, you can hear the stones hiss and sigh in the tidal wash. On the eastern horizon, the foothills of the Carmel reach heavenward, in keeping with their name, kerem-el, “the vineyard of God.” Sometimes, the candles of a village are visible in the high distance, but not at this hour. The night is too old for that now.

It is cool in the mountains but hot and damp in Atlit. The overhead lights throb and buzz in the moist air, heavy as a blanket. Nothing moves. Even the sentries in the guard towers are snoring, lulled by the stillness and sapped, like their prisoners, by the cumulative weight of the heat.

There are no politics in this waning hour of the night, no regret, no delay, no waiting. All of that will return with the sun. The waiting is worse than the heat. Everyone who is locked up in Atlit waits for an answer to the same questions: When will I get out of here? When will the past be over?

There are only 170 prisoners in Atlit tonight, and fewer than seventy women in all. It is the same lopsided ratio on the chaotic roads of Poland and Germany, France and Italy; the same in the train stations and the Displaced Persons camps, in queues for water, identification cards, shoes, information. The same quotient, too, in the creaking, leaky boats that secretly ferry survivors into Palestine.

There is no mystery to this arithmetic. According to Nazi calculation, males produced more value alive than dead—if only marginally, if only temporarily. So they killed the women faster.

In Barrack C, the corrugated roof releases the last degrees of yesterday’s sun, warming the blouses and skirts that hang like ghosts from the rafters. There are burlap sacks suspended there as well, lumpy with random, rescued treasures: photograph albums, books, candlesticks, wooden bowls, broken toys, tablecloths, precious debris.

The narrow cots are lined up unevenly against the naked wood walls. The floor is littered with thin wool blankets kicked aside in the heat. A baby crib stands empty in the corner.

In Haifa, the lights are burning in the bakeries where the bread rises, and the workers pour coffee and light cigarettes. On the kibbutz among the pine trees high in the Carmel, dairymen are rubbing their eyes and pulling on their boots.

In Atlit, the women sleep. Nothing disturbs them. No one notices the soft stirring of a breeze, the blessing of the last, gentlest chapter of the day.

It would be a kindness to prolong this peace and let them rest a bit longer. But the darkness is already heavy with the gathering light. The birds have no choice but to announce the dawn. Eyes begin to open.

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Day After Night 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 108 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did enjoy this book as I have others by this author, but like others have said, the characters aren't really fleshed out and the reading is light yet emotional. The subject itself is very fascinating. I was sadly touched by the end, but I feel it lends credibility to the story. I would mildly recommend this book.
Amy_D_Z More than 1 year ago
Day after Night is the latest offering from acclaimed author Anita Diamant (The Red Tent). In this novel, Diamant transport the reader to Palestine, 1945. In the wake of Nazi Germany, the remaining Jews of Europe, recently liberated from the death camps, frail, hollow, and raw, are now gathered in Displaced People's Camps (DP's) across Europe. Many young people stand at a cross roads. They've lost everything - parents, siblings, friends. They've seen and experienced every horror, and now they must decide what to do with their lives. Should they return to their homes and communities in Europe? Should they take inspiration from the Zionist camp songs of their younger days and immigrate to Palestine? Should they try to find relatives in America? And ultimately: can they even live in the world, after having been through the camps? Diamant gives us a peak into the lives of five young women - teenage girls, really - each of whom ended up by a twist of fate in Palestine on the eve of Israel's statehood. "Welcome Home!" they are greeted by fellow survivors as they enter the barbed wired gate at Atlit - a prison compound on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, just south of Haifa. Having arrived in Palestine as a result of different motivations - some Zionist, others desperate, and still others from a sense of having nothing left in Europe, the girls undertake the seemingly insurmountable task of healing. They find themselves alive and alone in a world turned completely upside-down. They've been surviving from day to day for years, and now must adjust once again to a "new normal." Their struggle with this is palpable. A commonality they share is a great reluctance to remember - to remember the horrors they experienced in the camps. and even more poignant and more painful, to remember what life was like before the camps. Each girl has secrets that cannot be brought into the light of day. Each must battle her inner demons to find peace and self-forgiveness. Each girl finds her healing in different ways and at different times. And despite their tough outward appearances and actions, they support one another. Within Atlit the detainees break themselves into communities, often by their origins (Romanians, Germans, Hungarians, Poles, etc.). They come together as communities to converse in their native tongues, to ask for information about their neighbors and friends, and pray in familiar tunes. In a particularly moving scene, the entire camp comes together to recite Kaddish at the end of Yom Kippur. So many souls over which to pray. The number of young people in the camp makes sexual tension inevitable. These are young men and women in their late teens and early twenties. They flirt with each other. They tease one another. At one point a bus of Syrian Jews is brought into the camp (these young men had been captured by the British crossing the border into Palestine). They are muscle-bound, dark-skinned, black-haired men - very foreign and exotic-looking to the pale, thin European girls witnessing their arrival. Day after Night "has it all" - a wonderful story-line based on some of the most important moments in Jewish and Israeli history; empathetic characters; sex; intrigue; a prison break and chase scene; and even an epilogue to answer the questions of "whatever happened to" so-and-so. It's a beautiful book, from cover-to-cover, full of weepy moments and opportunities to reflect on life and how we play the cards we're dealt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read! Based on real events, which opened my eyes.
ToastedHead More than 1 year ago
The Red Tent had such an impact on all of us that years later, we are still talking about it. With high hopes, my book club and I read The Day After Night. We were intrigued by the subject matter which has not been touched on in recent literature. With so much written about the Holocaust, we were interested in finding out more about what was happening in Israel right at the beginning. This is the first novel in our experience that touched on the subject. Expecting another revealation, my book club and I were so disappointed with Day After Night. The characters were so poorly described and developed that we kept confusing the women and could not form clear pictures in our heads about their looks and personalities. The story was also simple, redundant and ended so quickly, it felt like a kid in class who had to finish a story because the bell had rung. We are going to see Anita Diamont speak tomorrow night, se we are curious to see what she has to say about this rather intriguing subject, but poorly executed novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a dissapointment after reading the red tent! I had high hopes for this one! :/
LovesToReadBW More than 1 year ago
Wow! This book gives you another look at what happened after World War II. A view that opens you up to wondering how anyone could survive the atrocities that occurred, how people could go on after losing everything. How could they have any hope or will-power. I am not sure there are many in our society today that could endure and go on. I had never really given any thought to how the people from the concentration camps survived after they were released by the Allies. Unfortunately we teach our children about World War II when they are really too young to think about what happened to individual people. Where they went, how they survived after the War.
RobbieLee More than 1 year ago
This book humanizes the Holocaust, sometimes we tend to put everyone in one category. Each one of these women survived different situations in different ways. Also, when a war is over we tend to forget that the impact of that war will affect that entire generation for the rest of their lives and in turn the lives of those they care about. GREAT BOOK.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent story that while sad, is refreshing and uplifting. Makes you want to read all work by Diamant.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this story. It was informative but with great character development. Interesting novel about the aftermath of WWII, survivors, and the forming of a new nation. It focused on friendship, hopes, fears and forgiveness of mostly 4 women in a detention camp. This book was well worth my time and money. Another great survival story on th NOOK is The Partisan by William Jarvis. It recently won an Indie Award. Both books deserve A+++++++
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am fascinated by WWII stories. Having been born after the war, it was surprising to me how we could have allowed the slaughter of so many Jews. And I had no idea that they continued to be interned after the war. This book seems to be a very personal account of the trials of the people. The characters were very well developed- you could FEEL what they were thinking and going through. I loved the entire story and cried while reading the last several pages. A must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Actually a really original story and that was good . Wish they had not felt compelled to have a forced (instant) love thrown into the story. That felt forced and unfounded.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a good read. Offered as a daily deal or a Free Friday about 2 months before The Red Tent mini series on Lifetime. Very difficult to imagine the various hardships these women endured and how they coped and are learning to cope. The story could benefit w/ further character development; I wouldn't have minded a longer read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Strong women who endured much during the war and were able to see a better life and still had to live through more hardships
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story is awesome, but the novel seems to not go deep enough into people
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This time of refugees trying to find safety and turned back as in u.s.a. too fleeing to china and india are all dramantic i was not a fan of the red tent or was our book club so did not ecpect too much of the author but this was really a disappointment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
while the topic is extremely interesting and not well-known the book was light. It is an easy read with not much content analysis given the difficult topic. I would have liked to have more in-depth character development and historical background woven into the story. However, i read this on an airplane and for this purpose it is a good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago