Anita Diamant’s ‘The Red Tent’ to hit the small screen

Anita Diamant’s ‘The Red Tent’ to hit the small screen

Author kvells about new star-studded Lifetime miniseries based on her New York Times bestseller about biblical Dinah

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Detail from the cover of 'The Red Tent,' first published in 1997.
Detail from the cover of 'The Red Tent,' first published in 1997.

Jewish author Anita Diamant’s “The Red Tent” is being made in to a TV mini-series 17 years after it first captivated readers and ascended the New York Times bestseller list. Lifetime has given a green light to the production, which will star Rebecca Ferguson (“The White Queen”), Minnie Driver (“Good Will Hunting” and the recent TV series “About A Boy”), Morena Baccarin (“Homeland”), Iain Glen (“Game of Thrones”) and Debra Winger (“Terms of Endearment,” “Officer and a Gentleman”).

It will be produced by Sony TV and executive produced by Paula Weinstein.

The prolific Diamant, who writes non-fiction Jewish books as well as fiction, told The Times of Israel that she is pleased that “The Red Tent” will finally make it to the small screen. The screen rights for the novel had been optioned off and on since its publication in 1997, with Lifetime acquiring them in 2011 and announcing plans to move ahead with production last week.

“It’s the icing on the cake,” kvelled Diamant, who said “The Red Tent” remains a book club favorite. “I still get a lot of emails about it, and I get invited to speak at book groups. Clearly it’s alive and well.”

The novel tells the story of the biblical Dinah, daughter of Jacob. Although she is a minor character in Genesis, Diamant makes her the book’s protagonist and tells the narrative from her perspective. The novel includes the rape of Dinah and the revenge murder perpetrated by her brothers Simon and Levi.

Anita Diamant (photo credit: Gretje Fergeson)
Anita Diamant (photo credit: Gretje Fergeson)

Unlike in the Bible, the story does not end there. Diamant portrays Dinah genuinely in love with the prince of Shechem and grief-stricken by his death. Dinah escapes to Egypt and gives birth to a son.

Later, she finds love again and reunites with her estranged brother Joseph, who has by then become an important Egyptian official. When she meets again with her father and other brothers, she learns they have forgotten her.

However, the women with whom she had sat in the “red tent,” where the female members of Jacob’s tribe stayed while menstruating and giving birth, remembered her and continued to tell her story. (Diamant used fictional license with regard to the menstrual tent, which was part of other ancient cultures, but not the ancient Israelites.)

“It’s a work of historical fiction, not biblical commentary,” the author noted.

‘It’s a work of historical fiction, not biblical commentary’

Diamant’s Facebook page has been inundated with notes of congratulations and questions about the production.

“Thanks for the congratulations from near and dear and near and far. Please know that I have nothing to do with the script, casting, etc. etc. No trip to Morocco either, alas,” she responded, referring to the country in which the miniseries will be shot.

The author is looking forward to seeing her best-known novel on screen, and is accepting of the fact that she has no creative control at this point.

“I am eager to see what they do with it. They will put their vision on it,” she said.

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