Anita Diamant gives a voice to the silenced

“If you want to understand any woman, you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully.” Acclaimed author Anita Diamant echoed those words from her novel “The Red Tent” in her address to the University during her visit on Sunday. Megan Benay, a member of Hillel, worked for a year to bring the author to UVM because of the incredible impact “The Red Tent” had on her as a young Jewish girl, inspiring her to become better acquainted with her heritage and its sense of sisterhood and history. The lecture entitled, “Writing Historical Fiction: Imagining the Past,” was well at?tended by crowd of all ages, clutching copies of Diamant’s novels “The Red Tent,” “The Last Days of Dogtown” and “Good Harbor.”Susan Leff, executive director of Hillel, introduced Diamant by speaking of her own desire of inspiring students to “have the opportunity to act on their dreams and to work towards their goals.” Diamant’s first novel, “The Red Tent,” was extremely well received and has been published in 25 countries. The author appeared humbled by her success and ex?pressed gratitude to the audience for their support. She spoke eloquently and, in the words of author Virginia Wolff, about writing into the silence of women in literature. Diamant outlined the themes of motherhood, sisterhood and friendship between women that she carries over through all of her novels. She gives these women power in a way that history has not, having passed over them preferring their male counterparts. In researching and writing historical fiction, Diamant explained the importance of allowing imagination to take over where historical texts end and creating possible realities to which readers can relate.Speaking about her current novel – which yet to be named – Diamant spins intoxicating tales of historical sisterhood and the power they have with a sense of “ancient gossip and heresy,” in a small town in Massachussetts in the 1820s and 1830s. The test of a good novel, and what Diamant can only hope with her own books, is that readers feel for the characters and want more.