The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit

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

by Lucette Lagnado

On Sale: 06/26/2007

The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit

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

by Lucette Lagnado

On Sale: 06/26/2007


About the Book

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.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

“Beautifully written.... A great personalized telling of Egypt’s complicated history in the last half of the 20th century.” - Fareed Zakaria

“Like André Aciman...she conjures a vanished world with elegiac ardor and uncommon grace.” - Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

“[A] crushing, brilliant book…one final kiss from the Lagnados to their beloved city.” - New York Times Book Review

“This memoir of an Egyptian Jewish family’s gradual ruin is told without melodrama by its youngest survivor.” - The New Yorker

“The resilient dignity of Lucette’s family transcends the fiercest of obstacles.” - Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Lagnado gets to the heart of the modern exodus in a way only those who lived it can.” - Miami Sun Post

“Captivating…illuminates its places and times, providing indelible individual portraits...An exceptional memoir.” - Booklist (starred review)

“Excellent new memoir… One could praise Ms. Lagnado’s book for many things.” - New York Sun

“Full of emotion and longing, yet never sentimental, this lyrical memoir evokes a cosmopolitan Cairo.” - Jewish Woman

“Lagnado spares nothing in the retelling…in this tender and captivating memoir.” - The Oregonian (Portland)

“It succeeds especially as a... heartfelt elegy to the long-lost Cairo community of her youth.” - Library Journal

“Nostalgic but objectively tempered portrait of a family at the heart of social and cultural upheaval.” - Kirkus Reviews

“Beautifully written . . . rich with history and insight. Wonderful.” - Oscar Hijuelos, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of THE MAMBO KINGS PLAY SONGS OF LOVE

“A stunning achievement.” - Andre Aciman, author of OUT OF EGYPT and CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

“A subtle and eloquent description of fatherly love and a mesmerizing portrait of a man shattered by the immigration experience.” - Marianne Pearl, author of A MIGHTY HEART

“Lagnado’s richly textured memoir is a loving tribute to a lost man and a lost culture.” - Reform Judaism

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780060822125
  • ISBN 10: 0060822120
  • Imprint: Ecco
  • On Sale: 06/26/2007
  • Pages: 352
  • List Price:31.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : HISTORY / General

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