Winner of the 'Best of the Best' Adult category at the Independent Bookshop Week Awards 2016.
Winner of the Independent Booksellers' Book Award 2011.
Winner of the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2011.
Longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2011.
Winner of the Costa Biography Award 2010.
Costa Book Awards 2010 Judges' comment: "A book that is both highly original and tremendously moving. De Waal's subject matter is fascinating in itself, but what makes the book work so well is the delicacy with which he approaches his task and the emotion he invests within it."
Winner of the Galaxy New Writer of the Year 2010.
The history of a family through 264 objects, set against a turbulent century, from an acclaimed writer and potter.
264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a matchbox: potter Edmund de Waal was entranced when he first encountered the collection in the Tokyo apartment of his great uncle Iggie. Later, when Edmund inherited the 'netsuke', they unlocked a story far larger than he could ever have imagined...The Ephrussis came from Odessa, and at one time were the largest grain exporters in the world; in the 1870s, Charles Ephrussi was part of a wealthy new generation settling in Paris. Marcel Proust was briefly his secretary and used Charles as the model for the aesthete Swann in Remembrance of Things Past. Charles' passion was collecting; the netsuke, bought when Japanese objects were all the rage in the salons, were sent as a wedding present to his banker cousin in Vienna. Later, three children - including a young Ignace - would play with the netsuke as history reverberated around them. The Anschluss and Second World War swept the Ephrussis to the brink of oblivion. Almost all that remained of their vast empire was the netsuke collection, smuggled out of the huge Viennese palace (then occupied by Hitler's theorist on the 'Jewish Question'), one piece at a time, in the pocket of a loyal maid - and hidden in a straw mattress. In this stunningly original memoir, Edmund de Waal travels the world to stand in the great buildings his forebears once inhabited. He traces the network of a remarkable family against the backdrop of a tumultuous century. And, in prose as elegant and precise as the netsuke themselves, he tells the story of a unique collection which passed from hand to hand - and which, in a twist of fate, found its way home to Japan.
`This book is impossible to put down. You have in your hands a masterpiece.' Sunday Times
'Few writers have ever brought more perception, wonder and dignity to a family story' Irish Times
'Buy two copies of his book; keep one and give the other to your closest bookish friend' The Economist
'I can't imagine how his powerful story could be better 'told' Guardian Hay Festival Blog
'He is wonderful on place, forever turning doorknobs, real and imaginary, and inviting the reader in' The Observer
'Part treasure hunt, part family saga, Edmund de Waal's richly original memoir spans nearly two centuries and covers half the world' Evening Standard
`A book that combines the charm of a personal memoir with the resonance of world history.' The Scotsman
`Complex and beautiful' Literary Review
‘(de Waal) weaves together with great delicacy various strands of the lives of a glamorous dynasty'. - Daily Telegraph
Publication date: 22/01/2011
Publisher: Chatto & Windus an imprint of CCV
|Publication date:||22nd January 2011|
|Author:||Edmund de Waal|
|Publisher:||Chatto & Windus an imprint of CCV|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, eBook Favourites, Reading Groups, The Real World,|
|Categories:||Biography: general, Carvings: artworks,|
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. Author photo © Hannah JamesMore About Edmund de Waal