Author(s): Edmund de Waal
264 wood and ivory carvings of animals, plants and people, none of them larger than a matchbox; apprentice potter Edmund de Waal was entranced by the collection when he first encountered it in the Tokyo apartment of his great uncle Iggie. When he inherited them, he discovered that they unlocked a story larger than he could have imagined.
I loved this book right from the beginning and found myself wondering why I hadn't picked it up earlier. Edmund de Waal writes about the history of a collection of Japanese netsuke that has been in his family for generations. Reading about the personal stories associated with the netsuke and how the objects fitted into these people's lives was why I enjoyed this book so much. "I want to know whose hands it has been in, and what they felt about it and thought about it... I want to know what it has witnessed." - Jessie
Undoubtedly the most fascinating biography I've ever read, this book traces the path of De Waal's ancestors, the exorbitantly wealthy Jewish Ephrussi family, as well as his recently inherited collection of Japanese netsuke. He starts with Charles who starts the collection in Paris in the late 1800s, moves to Vienna during the horrors of two world wars where the netsuke are nearly lost to the Nazis, and finishes in Tokyo with beloved Uncle Iggie during the American occupation. This book covers a huge range of emotions, and political eras, and is written with real passion and poetry. A total must read. - Lucy
Edmund de Waal's The Hare With Amber Eyes is an exquisite book. De Waal inherits his family's netsuke collection, and in tracing their lineage, his reveals the relationships between objects and people, and the Ephrussi family's intriguing, and at times heartbreaking, story. Satisfying beautiful writing. - Stella
I have also read The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, which I just loved. It is a beautifully written family history spanning the years from 1870s to the present, beginning with the author's wealthy Jewish grain-trading family leaving Odessa and establishing themselves and their bank in Paris and Vienna, their time under the Nazis and leaving Europe and following the family's altered fortune after the war. This is a deserving winner of the Costa Prize for Biography. - Susi
The history of a family through 264 objects - set against a turbulent century - from an acclaimed writer and potter
Galaxy National Book Awards: National Book Tokens New Writer of the Year 2010 and
Costa Biography Book Award 2010 and
Ondaatje Prize 2011
"[A] wonderful book" -- Dame Felicity Lott Waitrose Weekend "From a hard and vast archival mass...Mr de Waal has fashioned, stroke by minuscule stroke, a book as fresh with detail as if it had been written from life, and as full of beauty and whimsy as a netsuke from the hands of a master carver." The Economist "This remarkable book... a meditation on touch, exile, space and the responsibility of inheritance... like the netsuke themselves, this book is impossible to put down. you have in your hands a masterpiece." -- Frances Wilson The Sunday Times "Few writers have ever brought more perception, wonder and dignity to a family story as has Edmund de Waal in a narrative that beguiles from the opening sentence" -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times "Part treasure hunt, part family saga, Edmund de Waal's richly original memoir spans nearly two centuries and covers half the world" Evening Standard
Edmund de Waal's porcelain is shown in many museum collections round the world and he has recently made installations for the V&A and Tate Britain. He was apprenticed as a potter, studied in Japan and read English at Cambridge. He is Professor of Ceramics at the University of Westminster and lives in London with his family.