Monday, October 25, 2010

The Red Tent

A few years ago, I read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, and was very disappointed in it. It tells the story of Dinah who was the sister of the twelve brothers who formed the twelve tribes of Israel. Her primary mention in the Bible is that she was raped, and two of her brothers killed the entire village of the man who raped her.

I thought it was a wonderful idea to tell the story from Dinah's point of view, the story of a rape victim living in a patriarchal society. I thought the author would narrate some of the same events as the Bible, but have some of them seem less important to the women as they did to the men, and insert new events that were important to the women, but not to the men, and so didn't get mentioned in the Bible.

I was a little disappointed right off the bat for two reasons: first, she didn't just add stories to the biblical narrative, she changed them. Of course she has the prerogative of doing so, it just seemed like she took a great idea and didn't take it to its full potential. Second, this book was saturated with sex. It seems that everything turned on it. Again, that's her prerogative, but at some point, you just say, "All right, I get it, you can write about something else now."

But I almost threw the book away when it came to the story of Dinah's rape. Here, this author (a woman) had the opportunity to give a voice to all the women who have been raped in cultures which had little to no sympathy for their suffering, and how does she portray it? Dinah really wanted it. It's just an affair she has with a man, and her brothers kill the village because she has shamed the family.

So I don't recommend this book. It had enormous potential, and squandered it. If you're looking for an author who writes stories for and about women from a biblical perspective, I recommend Francine Rivers.

Discuss this post at the Quodlibeta Forum

1 comment:

Ron said...

My mother read this book a while back and she never told me anything about it. It just kind of disappeared from memory. I guess I know why now. I like some fiction based on biblical stories sometimes but I am careful to make sure beforehand that they are good. I try to do that for everything I read but especially for Christian fiction or fiction based on the Bible as I've been more disapointed with them than with run of the mill science fiction or fantasy novels.