The Arrogant Years

One Girl's Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn

By Lucette Lagnado
(Ecco, Hardcover, 9780061803673, 416pp.)

Publication Date: September 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Description

The author of the award-winning The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit—hailed by the New York Times book review as a “crushing, brilliant book”—returns with this, the extraordinary follow-up memoir

In The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, Lucette Lagnado offered a heartbreaking portrait of her father, Leon, a successful Cairo boulevardier who was forced to take flight with his family during the rise of the Nasser dictatorship, and of her family’s struggle to rebuild a new life in a new land.

In this much-anticipated new memoir, Lagnado tells the story of her mother, Edith, coming of age in a magical old Cairo of dusty alleyways and grand villas inhabited by pashas and their wives. Then Lagnado revisits her own early years in America—first, as a schoolgirl in Brooklyn’s immigrant enclaves, where she dreams of becoming the fearless Mrs. Emma Peel of The Avengers, and later, as an “avenging” reporter for some of America’s most prestigious newspapers. A stranger growing up in a strange land, when she turns sixteen Lagnado’s adolescence is further complicated by cancer. Its devastating consequences would rob her of her “arrogant years”—the years defined by an overwhelming sense of possibility, invincibility, and confidence. Lagnado looks to the women sequestered behind the wooden screen at her childhood synagogue, to the young coeds at Vassar and Columbia in the 1970s, to her own mother and the women of their past in Cairo, and reflects on their stories as she struggles to make sense of her own choices.




Praise For The Arrogant Years

“[E]nchanting…It’s risky to write a second memoir about the same time period, but in Lagnado’s hands, the result feels natural and right. She skillfully reminds us that a single human life is infinitely complex, that there are as many sides to a story as times it is told.”
-New York Times Book Review

“The Arrogant Years [is] a paragon of memoir writing, a story about the complex swirl of people and events and forces out of which individual lives are made — some, like Ms. Lagnado’s, more painfully, but also more fully, than others.”
-New York Times

“[A] taut and moving memoir…With a journalist’s economy of style and an intuitive sense of story, [Lagnado] weaves an account of her own arrogant years.... [A] meditation on exile and assimilation, feminism and the enduring ties of family.”
-San Francisco Chronicle

“With precision and searing honesty, Lucette Lagnado writes in The Arrogant Years about her torn allegiances as both an Egyptian Jew growing up in America in the 1960s and ‘70s and the youngest daughter of unhappily married parents.”
-O, The Oprah Magazine

“Lagnado is at her best when she plumbs her own psyche to sort out her life’s ups and downs…a rewarding journey.”
-Washington Post

“[A]ffecting…Lagnado writes with great affection and compassion for her mother, and she describes displacement and the urgency of memory. Readers... of Sharkskin will again be moved…. It is also a portrait of awe-inspiring caregiving by a loving daughter.”
-Jewish Week
-Boston Globe

“From Pashas to paupers, from the alleyways of Cairo to the working class streets of Brooklyn, this epic family saga of faith and fragility showcases Lucette – nicknamed Loulou by her family—as a budding contrarian in her alien New World.”
-Jewish Woman Magazine, Book of the Month

“This moving follow-up [to The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit] revolves around Lagnado and her mother, both of them battling their fates and coming of age in times of social change.”
-New York Times Book Review, Paperback Row

“Weaves together the life stories of several women in a way that will resonate with readers of any ethnicity…Lagnado’s done a fabulous job, again, of transporting us to a multi-ethnic Cairo that no longer exists. That alone is worth the price of admission.”
-Library Journal

“You don’t have to be Jewish to take this entrancing literary ride…. The Arrogant Years is a lovely book, sad and hilarious by turn, written with love of life, and an enormous affection for language. You will love it too.”
-Malachy McCourt, New York Times bestselling author of A Monk Swimming

“In the radiant presence of Lucette Lagnado herself--and in The Arrogant Years, her moving and unsparingly revelatory second memoir… we have honesty as purity of style, and lucidity as burning emotion, and history as an enduring hymn to resilience.”
-Cynthia Ozick

“Lyrical…[Lagnado’s] memoir is a fully fleshed, moving re-creation of once-vibrant Jewish communities.”
-Publishers Weekly

“[A] frank and searching chronicle of lost and found dreams… Lagnado is spellbinding and profoundly elucidating in this vividly detailed and far-reaching family memoir of epic adversity and hard-won selfhood.”
-Booklist (starred review)

“[Lagnado] is a gifted storyteller who spins ordinary family experiences into enchanting fairy tales, complete with magical backdrops...nasty villains and dashing heroes…. Vivid and evocative...tender and heartfelt.”
-Kirkus

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