Lagnado, Lucette 1957- (Lucette Matalon Lagnado)
Lagnado, Lucette 1957- (Lucette Matalon Lagnado)
Born September 19, 1957, in Cairo, Egypt; daughter of Leon Ezra (a textile broker) and Edith (a library cataloguer) Lagnado; married Douglas Michael Feiden (a journalist), December 31, 1995. Education: Vassar College, B.A., 1977.
Home—New York, NY.
Editor, journalist, and writer. Investigative reporter for Jack Anderson's column, Washington, DC, 1980-87; New York Post, New York, NY, investigative reporter, 1987-1993; Village Voice, New York, NY, investigative reporter, 1990-93; Forward, New York, NY, senior editor, then executive editor, beginning 1993-c.1996; Wall Street Journal, New York bureau, reporter, beginning 1996, senior special writer, 2000—.
New York Press Club Heart of New York award, 2001, for story about Calvary Hospital; Big Apple Journalism Award in best reporting on New York City category, New Yorkers Need to Know, 2001, for story "Offshore Assets"; Front Page Award, Newswomen's Club of New York, 2001, for specialized writing, 2002, for reporting on 9/11, 2003, for "in-depth" reporting on hospital billing and collection; Mike Berger Award, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 2002, for story "Old Notions"; Laurel award, Columbia Journalism Review, 2003; New York Press Club award in the Feature Category and the Exceptional Merit Media Award for Exceptional Feature Story, both 2003, both for article "Rough Treatment."
(With Sheila Cohn Dekel) Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz, Morrow (New York, NY), 1991.
The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World (memoir), Ecco (New York, NY), 2007.
Children of the Flames has been translated into a dozen languages.
A longtime journalist and editor who has primarily worked in New York City, Lucette Lagnado is also the author, with Sheila Cohn Dekel, of Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz and the sole author of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World. In the first book, Lagnado and Dekel tell the story of notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele who, during the course of World War II, subjected approximately 3,000 twins to horrible medical experiments. Of these twins, many of whom were young children, only 160 survived by the time Allies liberated the prisoners in Nazi concentration camps. The story, which includes a biography of Mengele, who was called "the angel of death," is told in counterpoint to the lives of these survivors, several of whom the authors interviewed for their book. "One especially disturbing aspect of the book is the fact that some of the victims remember Mengele as a charming father-substitute," noted Genevieve Stuttaford in Publishers Weekly. The various twins' stories include both the ordeals they were subjected to by Mengele as well as their postwar lives. Mengele died in South America in 1979, although many of the surviving twins think that this was just a hoax so that Mengele could once again escape his pursuers. Lagnado's coauthor, Dekel, is the widow of an Auschwitz twin.
Lagnado turns to her own family for the inspiration for her second book, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit. In the book, the author tells the story of her fam- ily in Egypt and cosmopolitan Cairo during World War II on through Gamal Abdel Nasser's rise to power in 1956 and her family's eventual move to America. Nassar was a nationalist and strongly anti-Jewish, and his rise to power would ultimately lead to the complete devastation of the lives that Jews in Egypt once knew. In an interview with her niece, Caroline Lagnado, for the Forward Web site, the author explained her reasons for writing the book: "What I wanted to do was tackle these fairly epic themes of exile and loss and rootlessness, but through a child's eyes: The child that I was when I left Cairo with my family in the early 1960s. I chose to tell the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt through a single family, ours, and by way of a little girl named Loulou, who is of course my alter ego."
The author tells the story beginning with her father, who was a merchant and stockbroker and a fashionable man-about-town known for his signature white sharkskin suit. Nassar's rise to power, however, means ruin for the author's father and his Jewish family. Eventually, her father realizes that their family must escape. The author describes the hardships the family faces as they flee Egypt with all their belongings packed in twenty-six suitcases, including valuables hidden in sealed tins of marmalade. These hardships are highlighted as the author recalls the comfortable lives that they once lived in Egypt. "Lagnado's memoir … is as much about her father's love affair with the city as it is about one family's painful exile from the Middle East," noted Jessie Graham on the Nextbook Web site. Eventually, the family arrives in America, and the author recounts her family's early life in the United States as they try to adjust to the very different world they encountered in New York.
Referring to Lagnado's memoir as "stunning," Michiko Kakutani went on to write in her New York Times review of the book: "Writing in crystalline yet melodious prose, Ms. Lagnado gives us an indelible gallery of family portraits." Ingrid Levin, writing in the Library Journal, called The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit "a heartfelt elegy to the long-lost Cairo community of her youth."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Lagnado, Lucette, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World, Ecco (New York, NY), 2007.
Booklist, May 15, 2007, Michele Leber, review of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, p. 18.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2007, review of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit.
Library Journal, March 1, 1991, Gerda Haas, review of Children of the Flames: Dr. Joseph Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz, p. 101; May 1, 2007, Ingrid Levin, review of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, p. 85.
New Yorker, August 6, 2007, review of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, p. 71.
New York Times, December 31, 1995, "Weddings; Lucette Lagnado, Douglas Feiden"; August 10, 2007, Michiko Kakutani, "Take Me Back to Egypt's Land," review of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit.
New York Times Book Review, August 12, 2007, Alana Newhouse, review of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit.
Publishers Weekly, February 22, 1991, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Children of the Flames, p. 203.
Forward,http://www.forward.com/ (August 3, 2007), Caroline Lagnado, "Out of Egypt; Q&A."
HarperCollins Web site,http://www.harpercollins.com/ (February 2, 2008), brief profile of author.
Jewish Literary Review,http://www.jewishliteraryreview.com/ (August 17, 2007), Steve Pollak, "Lucette Lagnado: Viewing Old Cairo from the New World," review of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit.
Nextbook,http://www.nextbook.org/ (August 28, 2007), Jessie Graham, "Cairene Dream," interview with author.
UCLA Anderson School of Management Web site,http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/ (February 2, 2008), profile of author.