photo: Sharona Jacobs

Anita Diamant is a writer whose work includes fiction, journalism, essays, and guidebooks to contemporary Jewish life.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, she grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and Denver, Colorado. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in comparative literature and earned a Master’s in American literature from Binghamton University in upstate New York.

In 1975, Anita moved to Boston and contributed to local magazines and newspapers (Boston Phoenix, Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, New England Monthly), reporting and commenting about everything from profiles of prominent people and stories about medical ethics, to first-person essays about everything from politics to popular culture to pet ownership. Her work also appeared in national publications, including McCalls, Ms., Parenting, Real Simple, and The Wall Street Journal.

Her first book, The New Jewish Wedding ( 1985)  explained traditional practice and reported on contemporary practices. Five guidebooks to Jewish life and lifecycle events followed: The New Jewish Baby Book; Living a Jewish Life: Traditions, Customs and Values for Today’s Families: Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends; Saying Kaddish: How To Comfort the Dying, Bury the Dead and Mourn as a Jew, and How to Raise a Jewish Child.

Her most recent book is Period. End of Sentence — A New Chapter in the Fight for Menstrual Justice (2021).

Anita is best-known for The Red Tent, published in 1997.  Inspired by a few lines from Genesis, the novel tells the story of an obscure and overlooked character named Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob and Leah. The Red Tent became a word-of-mouth bestseller thanks to reader recommendations, book groups, and support from independent bookstores. In 2001, the Independent Booksellers Alliance named The Red Tent as the year’s “Booksense Best Fiction.” The Red Tent has been published in more than 25 countries, including  England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Spain, and Sweden. In 2014, the book was adapted as a two-part, four-hour miniseries by Lifetime TV.

Good Harbor, her second novel, explores the importance of women’s friendships as a source of strength and support through the worst of times, including a diagnosis of breast cancer and a foundering marriage.

The Last Days of Dogtown is set in rural Massachusetts in the early 1800s and describes life in a poor  community inhabited by widows, spinsters, freed Africans, and orphan children.

Day After Night  recounts the experience of women who survived the Holocaust and in 1945 make their way to what was then Palestine, where they were sent to a British internment camp, surrounded by barbed wire.

The Boston Girl is the story of Addie Baum, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. The novel begins when Addie’s twenty-two year old granddaughter asks, “How did you get to be the woman you are today?”

Over the  years,  Anita has revised and updated several of  her books about Jewish life, including,  The Jewish Wedding Now (originally The New Jewish Wedding), Living a Jewish Life, Choosing a Jewish Life, and Saying Kaddish.

Anita Diamant is the founding president Mayyim Hayyim, Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center in Newton Massachusetts — a reinvention of the ancient Jewish tradition of mikveh, ritual immersion in water. Visit Mayyim Hayyim for more information.