Day After Night
Day After Night covers a period of history not often covered by fiction. Though there are plenty of books about the Holocaust, I do not know of many which cover the decision of many Holocaust survivors to travel to Jewish homeland Israel/Zion to be repatriated. There is, I am told Exodus by Leon Uris, a monster hit in the 1950s, but I have not read it and so this book was my first brush with this period.
The novel focuses on four women Zorah, Leonie, Tedi, and Shayndel who all survived the persecution of their race in different circumstances and are all seeking a new start. Thrown together at British detention centre Atlit, tentative bonds begin to form between the broken and distrustful women.
It is so so hard not to compare this book to The Red Tent, the Diamant novel I read last month. Where the prose in that novel is lyrical and beautiful, Day and Night is far plainer and less engaging. It is hard to feel involved with the women at times, and I hate to say it but at times they bored me, which feels like a terrible thing to say given the subject matter.
There are little pockets of greatness here and there, particularly in the way in which the women's dealings with Lotte are described, and the individuality of each woman's origin, but something about it feels like more of a history lesson than a story, less character than simply archetype, like its purpose is solely informative. For this reason it is a bit colourless as a novel, yet as the fates of each character were rounded up, I did shed a tear so I was definitely moved at the end.
Unlike the Red Tent though it is not a book which lights up your mind and imagination. At best I would consider it a 5 or 6/10