The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit is the first part of the author’s memoir (the second, The Arrogant Years I read last month). It focuses for the most part on earlier memories and especially on her father, who did look dashing in, yes, a white sharkskin suit, in the Cairo of his youth, while The Arrogant Years focused more on her mother and more on their lives in New York. The author managed to create two memoirs on pretty much the same events that hardly repeat one another, so both are worth reading.
This book is a love paean to her father, who consistently adored his youngest child even as he often treated her mother shabbily, at least from a modern perspective, and even when his prosperous Egyptian ways are reduced to penury in Paris and eventually the US as Jews were chased out of Egypt in the 1950’s. Throughout, she is able to recreate settings and situations so vividly that it’s easy to forget that she left Cairo as a little girl, and certainly was not around when her parents are courting. A great portrait of a larger than life man and a family with many hardships.