Sunday, August 1, 2010

Review: The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit

The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit

Synopsis from Amazon:
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, consorting with British officers and Egyptian royalty at French cafés while his family, neglected, stayed home. At first refusing to join the tide of Jews fleeing Egypt under the Nasser regime, the Captain finally yields, in 1963, when the family escapes to Paris and then Brooklyn. Deprived of wealth, status, and any means of coping, Lagnado’s father fades, but he never loses his air of chivalry, manifested in a regular outflow of tiny checks to charitable causes—orphanages, vocational schools, and dowry funds for poor girls—overseas. "As if the Captain were capable of rescuing anyone," his daughter writes.

My review:
I was really excited to read this book when I found it in a used bookstore.  My husband's family moved to Canada from Egypt around the same time as the author's family.  Lagnado, a journalist, tells the story of her father who she was very close to, despite his advanced age and declining health.  While the family had been well off in Egypt, when they moved to America, they were forced to depend on charity to survive.  The book was very well written.  I found the author (one of the main characters) to be somewhat annoying.  Since she was so little, she was used to getting whatever she wanted and did not understand that when they came to the US, her family did not have any money.  I felt most connected to the father.  The part I particularly liked is when the author talked about the fact that her father would send checks to charities despite not having money to spend on the family. 
3.5 stars

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