The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit

My Family's Exodus From Old Cairo to the New World

Lagnado, Lucette

Book - 2007
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit
In vivid and graceful prose, Lucette Lagnado re-creates the majesty and cosmopolitan glamour of Cairo in the years between World War II and Gamal Abdel Nasser's rise to power. Her father, Leon, was a boulevardier who conducted business on the elegant terrace of Shepheard's Hotel, and later, in the cozy, dark bar of the Nile Hilton, dressed in his signature white sharkskin suit. But with the fall of King Farouk and Nasser's nationalization of Egyptian industry, Leon and his family lose everything. As streets are renamed, neighborhoods of their fellow Jews disbanded, and the city purged of all foreign influence, the Lagnados, too, must make their escape. With all of their belongings packed into twenty-six suitcases, their jewels and gold coins hidden in sealed tins of marmalade, Leon and his family depart for any land that will take them. The poverty and hardships they encounter in their flight from Cairo to Paris to New York are strikingly juxta-posed against the beauty and comforts of the lives they left behind. An inversion of the American dream set against the stunning portraits of three world cities, Lucette Lagnado's memoir offers a grand and sweeping story of faith, tradition, tragedy, and triumph. Winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and hailed by the New York Times Book Review as a "brilliant, crushing book" and the New Yorker as a memoir of ruin "told without melodrama by its youngest survivor," The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit recounts the exile of the author's Jewish Egyptian family from Cairo in 1963 and her father's heroic and tragic struggle to survive his "riches to rags" trajectory.

Publisher: New York : Ecco, c2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 0060822120
Branch Call Number: 305.8924 M425m 2007
Characteristics: xii, 340 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm


From Library Staff

Join the discussion on Sept. 9, 2014. An exceptional memoir of a cosmopolitan Egyptian Jewish family's escape from the Nasser regime in 1963 to Paris and finally Brooklyn.

"Wall Street Journal reporter Lagnado presents an evocative memoir of her wrenching childhood exile from her beloved Cairo birthplace. Eventually settling in the alien environs of New York City in the early 1960s, Lagnado and her formerly wealthy family faced a harsh reality of poverty and ... Read More »

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May 25, 2010
  • valpro rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is a great read! A very thoughtful and captivating autobiography/biography of the author and her father. Also, a wonderful view of Cairo in the first half of the 20th century.


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