Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit by Lucette Lagnado

Originally posted Dec. 1, 2007
Full name: The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World

I thoroughly liked this book. Lucette Lagnado speaks from the heart about her family's life with respect and candor. Mostly autobiographical in content, the history of the family and particularly the patriarch is the backbone on which it is written. A complete "riches to rags" story, the early part of the book deals with a world completely alien to post-war Egypt and its Jewish population. Fleeing from their country of birth and rich lifestyle into the unknown life of refugees with "no state", no home, is a journey of changes, separation, religious deprivation, illness, and much more. Lucette "Loulou" takes this journey and relates it without prejudice or blame. She gives us an understanding of the life of a refugee immigrant in the post-war world of the 1950/60s and beyond; a time of change not just in the country they have left but in the countries to which they flee. The suffering of the father trying to raise his family in the ways of both a strict religion and a strict culture is described with the perspective of both a little girl with great love for her father and as a young lady gradually breaking with tradition. She has written this book in a gentle, insightful and caring way that can teach us a lot without hammering it in.

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