Man in the White Sharkskin Suit (Lagnado)

The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: A Jewish Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World
Lucette Lagnado, 2007
368 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780060822187

In vivid and graceful prose, Lucette Lagando recreates the majesty and cosmopolitan glamour of Cairo in the years between WWII and Nasser's rise to power.

Her father, Leon, was a boulevardier who bore a striking resemblance to Carry Grant and conducted his business in the elaborate lobby of the Nile Hilton, dressed in his signature white sharkskin suit. Lagnado brings to life the color and culture of Cairo's sidewalk cafes and nightclubs, the markets and the quiet Jewish homes of the ancient city.

But with Nasser's nationalization of Egyptian industry, Leon and his family lose everything. As streets are renamed and neighborhoods of their fellow Jews are disbanded, they, too, must make their escape. Packed into 26 suitcases, their jewels hidden in sealed tins of anchovies, Leon and his family depart for any land that will take them.

From Cairo to Paris to New York, the poverty and hardships they encounter make a striking contrast to the beauty and comfort of old Cairo. As their lives become an inversion of the American dream, though, "The resilient dignity of Lucette's family transcends the fiercest of obstacles," writes the Los Angeles Times Book Review.

Set against the stunning portraits of three world cities, this memoir offers a grand and sweeping story of family, tradition, tragedy and triumph in their epic exodus from paradise. (From the publisher.)

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