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DAN'S PAPERS, December 19, 2008 Page 59 www.danshamptons.com

Arts & Entertainment Local Author Embraces Multiculturalism By Tiffany Razzano In today’s turbulent times – seven years after 9/11, several years into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and just a month after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India – Romany Kramoris Gallery in Sag Harbor will be celebrating multicultural harmony this holiday season, with a reading and presentation by Sag Harbor author Lucette Lagnado on December 20 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Lagnado, an acclaimed investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal who has written about various healthcare industry issues, particularly those affecting the elderly, poor and uninsured, branched out with her 2007 book, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World, which came out in paperback this

After finding paperwork detailing how her father painstakingly paid back the $1,200 debt – in $5 and $10 increments over many years – he owed the Queen Mary for taking his family to the United States, Lagnado was inspired to tell his story. “It’s the anti-American dream,” she said, saying that people think “immigrants come here and struggle, then they do well and prosper. This is about a man who didn’t prosper. It’s about a descent, a fall – from Cairo to Paris to New York.” Lagnado was just a young girl, seven years old, when she arrived in New York. “It’s about being lost in exile through the eyes of a child, and, as much as possible, in the voice of a child,” she said. “It’s about transition in the terms a little girl would use. She’s in anguish over the loss of her cat. She misses her school, the life of the street, the vendors. But she doesn’t feel less than the adults. In fact, she feels more. She just can’t articulate it.” The upcoming event at the Romany Kramoris won’t be a simple reading, Lagnado says. She’ll talk about what’s been going on in the world over the past year-and-a-half, since Sharkskin Suit was first released in hardcover. There will be Egyptian music, Mediterranean food and belly dancers, creating more of a fun, joyous event than a dry reading. “I see it as a literary soiree,” she said, “and a very multicultural event on the eve of Hanukkah and

Christmas, at this terribly depressing time.” Sharkskin Suit came about after she published a father’s day essay, “Taste: A Matter of Life and Debt,” in the WSJ, in “a section I never write for – the back of the book, the cultural pages.” The essay garnered a lot of attention from people including a literary agent from HarperCollins. And once Sharkskin Suit came out, it received international acclaim, and was even honored with one of the most prestigious awards in the Jewish literary community (if not the global literary community): the 2008 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, which comes with a $100,000 prize. And Lagnado found that she enjoyed writing such a personal story more so than investigative reporting, though she did employ the skills of being a reporter for her book, as she tracked down documents, friends and family in order to get the details she needed to tell her father’s tale. She enjoyed it so much that she’s been given a contract, at a time when there’s been a freeze in the publishing industry, to write a companion book, The Arrogant Years, which she describes as “a young girl’s quest for her lost youth.” Lagnado will speak at the Romany Kramoris Gallery, Main Street, Sag Harbor, on Dec. 20 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For more information: 631-725-2499.

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past summer. The book tells the story of her father, Leon, through the voice of her childhood self, LouLou. “I knew that I could have covered the healthcare industry,” she said, “but I didn’t want to do anything about that. I wanted to write the story of my father.” Born in Egypt, Lagnado begins the book at a harmonious time in Cairo’s history, during the 1930s, ‘40s and early ‘50s, when her Jewish parents lived harmoniously among Muslims and westerners. This theme of multicultural harmony especially resonates today, given the current state of the world. “But it’s also what I see as a fall from grace,” she said, as the story recounts how her father, a once prominent businessman in Egypt lost everything he had after the fall of King Farouk. He and his family became refugees, first being sent to Paris for a brief period and eventually settling in New York City. When they left home, they weren’t allowed to bring much money, but were permitted to bring as many clothes as they wanted. “So we had only $200 and 26 suitcases of clothes.”

Chanukah Menorah Lighting 5:00 pm Sunday, December 21st Long Wharf, Sag Harbor 1197420

Dan's Papers 2008 Holiday Issue  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

Dan's Papers 2008 Holiday Issue  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

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