“Poignant . . . deeply personal . . . an indelible history of the largely forgotten Jews of Egypt . . . ”
In vivid and graceful prose, Lucette Lagnado re-creates the majesty and cosmopolitan glamour of Cairo in the years before Gamal Abdel Nasser’s rise to power. With Nasser’s nationalization of Egyptian industry, her father, Leon, a boulevardier who conducted business in his white sharkskin suit, loses everything, and departs with the family 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 juxtaposed 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.
About the Author
Born in Cairo, Lucette Lagnado and her family were forced to flee Egypt as refugees when she was a small child, eventually coming to New York. She was the author of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, for which she received the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature in 2008, and is the coauthor of Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz, which has been translated into nearly a dozen foreign languages. Joining the Wall Street Journal in 1996, she received numerous awards and was a senior special writer and investigative reporter. She died in 2019.
“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