Lucette Lagnado’s 2007 memoir, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, was a narrative of her family’s wrenching exile from Nasser’s anti-Semitic 1960s Cairo, filtered through the lens of her dashing, charismatic father. Lagnado’s second memoir, The Arrogant Years (Ecco, $14.99), covers similar terrain, but from the point of view of her mother, who was something of a footnote in the first volume. This is a poignant story of immigrant Brooklyn, of summers at Brighton Beach, Ocean Parkway synagogues, and of the longing to belong. Vignettes about the author’s attempt to find a kosher meal at Vassar, and of her mother’s fierce embrace of her job as a clerk at the Brooklyn Public Library, give this book a rich emotional texture.
Lucette Lagnado’s 2007 memoir, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, was a narrative of her family’s wrenching exile from Nasser’s increasingly anti-Semitic 1960s Cairo, filtered through the lens of her dashing, charismatic father. Her extraordinary gift for storytelling left the reader with an almost proprietary attachment to the characters, particularly to her long-suffering mother, who was something of a footnote in that book. Lagnado’s new memoir, The Arrogant Years (Ecco, $25.99), fills in those gaps and much more, with a rich, vivid portrait of immigrant life in Brooklyn and of the author’s own excruciating coming-of-age, which included battling cancer.
Claire Dewitt And The City Of The Dead (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24), by Sara Gran, is more than just a mystery story, it is a story about mysteries. Set in ravaged, post-Katrina New Orleans, Claire Dewitt (imagine Nancy Drew as a grown-up, pot-smoking, liquor-slugging, tattooed PI) is on the case of a missing DA. Following in the footsteps of her eccentric mentor and using the enigmatic Detection, the only book of famed French detective Jaquest Sillette, as a guide, Claire searches for clues in the Big Easy. But “searches for clues” is too pedestrian to describe Claire’s procedures. She analyzes her dreams, throws dice, consults the I Ching, interviews suspects and witnesses (sometimes at gunpoint), goes undercover—and makes brilliant connections. While trying to locate the missing DA, Claire also nears the truth about the disappearance of her best friend in 1980s Brooklyn, the biggest mystery of all. This is the first installment of what promises to be an engrossing new series.