Clipped, terse sentences nearly devoid of emotion punctuate the early chapters of Anita Diamant’s new novel, Day After Night. In effect, they create a cadence, a kind of tension that alerts the audience and causes the reader to pick up speed and maybe even to hyperventilate when reading. Slowly and systematically, though, the sentences increase in length and description, as Diamant introduces the four women who drive the plot in this fictional depiction of the Atlit Internment Camp in Haifa — a British-run prison for Jews considered illegal after the war.
One could easily argue that this novel is the story of these four women: Tedi, a Dutch Jew; Zorah, a survivor of a concentration camp; Shayndel, a Zionist from Poland; and Leonie, a Jew from Paris. Each is under age 21, but each has her own tortured memories, fears, and experiences, her own strengths and weaknesses, and her own unique attachment to the other three. They are, as Diamant describes, “leaves falling off the same tree,” and she tells their stories in separate chapters. With that, the reader comes to know and understand the moral and ethical dilemmas they face — individually and collectively — and the ways in which they handle these issues.
Beyond that, Diamant’s intentions are clear. On the one hand, she illustrates the will and resilience of four young women in an untenable, horrendous situation, who faced the end only to find the beginning. On the other hand, she invites the reader to learn, and perhaps even justify the behaviors and choices destined to yield each a particular set of consequences.