Man in the White Sharkskin Suit (Lagnado) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
In The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit Ms. Lagnado—an investigative reporter at the Wall Street Journal—gives us a deeply affecting portrait of her family and its journey from wartime Cairo to the New World. Like Andre Aciman in his now classic memoir, Out of Egypt (1994), she conjures a vanished world with elegiac ardor and uncommon grace, and like Mr. Aciman she calculates the emotional costs of exile with an unsentimental but forgiving eye. This is not simply the story of a well-to-do family’s loss of its home, its privileges and its identity. It is a story about how exile indelibly shapes people’s views of the world, a story about the mathematics of familial love and the wages of memory and time.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times


[T]he reality of the Lagnados' fate is so far from the triumphalism that Americans have come to expect from immigrant narratives—is one of many reasons to read this crushing, brilliant book.... In this book, she so effortlessly captures the characters in her family, and the Egyptian metropolis around them, that the reader may fail to notice the overwhelming research buttressing this story. But then you stumble upon a wonderfully vivid detail: the kind of stove used by her grandmother, what her mother was drinking when she met Leon, the exact menu of the elaborate meals served to a relative struck with pleurisy.
Alana Newhouse - New York Times Sunday Book Review


Lagnado, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, wrote eloquently about her family's exodus from Cairo to New York, exposing an untold story of almost a million Jewish refugees forced to leave their homes and striking a chord with readers across the world.
Connie Ogle - Miami Herald


This memoir of an Egyptian Jewish family’s gradual ruin is told without melodrama by its youngest survivor, now a reporter at the Wall Street Journal. Lagnado’s story hinges on her father, "the Captain," who cut a dashing figure in mid-century Cairo.... [When] the family escapes to Paris and then Brooklyn... Lagnado’s father fades, but he never loses his air of chivalry.
New Yorker


The strength of this memoir is in the writer's prose, at once graceful and powerful. Reporting on her father with the awe of a child and the wisdom of a grown-up, she manages to make the reader understand his charm and foibles and her love for him, and to feel his loss deeply. She also captures her extended family and the complexities of their lives and longings with depth and compassion. She joins memoirists Andre Aciman (Out of Egypt) and Gini Alhadeff (The Sun at Midday) in writing lyrical, personal books that are important documents of communities that have been extinguished.
Sandee Brawarksy - Jewish Week


We have a writer who looks at old Egypt from a unique point of view that combines the insiderishness and deeply felt insights of the native with the hard-edged realism of the probing, intelligent outsider...It is the splendid achievement of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit that it does not stop at being the loving evocation of a family that it indubitably is. Ms. Lagnado has also given us a timely and important reminder about the unwillingness of Arab nationalism to tolerate non-Arab communities.
Washington Times


Lagnado's captivating account of her family's life in cosmopolitan Cairo and painful relocation to America centers on her beloved father.... In Lagnado's accomplished hands, this personal account illuminates its places and times, providing indelible individual portraits and illustrating the difficulty of assimilation. An exceptional memoir. —Leber, Michel
Boolist


Bittersweet memoir unveils a nearly forgotten era of Jewish-Muslim affinity in the streets of Egypt's capital.... The author documents her almost fairy-tale upbringing in a Syrian family that fled to Egypt at the turn of the 20th century.... Nostalgic but objectively tempered portrait of a family at the heart of social and cultural upheaval.
Kirkus Reviews




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