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Men's Club Book Group
The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit
Tuesday, Feb 10th, 2009 9 AM

One East 65th Street

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in vivid and graceful prose, author 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. Lagnado’s 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 26 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 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.


LUCETTE LAGNADO is an investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where she has covered health care for a decade and received numerous awards for her work. She has been a finalist or received prizes from, among others, Columbia Journalism School, the University of Missouri and the University of Southern California. She is also the 2008 recipient of the $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for her memoir, the largest cash award in the Jewish book world.

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