264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them bigger than a matchbox: Edmund de Waal was entranced when he first encountered the collection in his great uncle Iggie's Tokyo apartment. When he later inherited the 'netsuke', they unlocked a story far larger and more dramatic than he could ever have imagined.
From a burgeoning empire in Odessa to fin de siecle Paris, from occupied Vienna to Tokyo, Edmund de Waal traces the netsuke's journey through generations of his remarkable family against the backdrop of a tumultuous century.
'You have in your hands a masterpiece' Frances Wilson, Sunday Times
'The most brilliant book I've read for years... A rich tale of the pleasure and pains of what it is to be human' Bettany Hughes, Daily Telegraph , Books of the Year
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.
"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 "A book that combines the charm of a personal memoir with the resonance of world history." -- Rosemary Hill The Scotsman