• Edmund De Waal.
  • Asian.
  • Jewish.
  • Imported from USA.

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2010: At the heart of Edmund
de Waal's strange and graceful family memoir, The Hare with Amber
Eyes, is a one-of-a-kind inherited collection of ornamental
Japanese carvings known as netsuke. The netsuke are tiny and
tactile--they sit in the palm of your hand--and de Waal is drawn
to them as "small, tough explosions of exactitude." He's also
drawn to the story behind them, and for years he put aside his
own work as a world-renowned potter and curator to uncover the
rich and tragic family history of which the carvings are one of
the few concrete legacies. De Waal's family was the Ephrussis,
wealthy Jewish grain traders who branched out from Russia across
the capitals of Europe before seeing their empire destroyed by
the Nazis. Beginning with his art connoisseur ancestor Charles (a
model for Proust's Swann), who acquired the netsuke during the
European rage for Japonisme, de Waal traces the collection from
Japan to Europe--where they were saved from the brutal
bureaucracy of the Nazi Anschluss in the pockets of a family
servant--and back to Japan and Europe again. Throughout, he
writes with a tough, funny, and elegant attention to detail and
personality that does full justice to the exactitude of the
little carvings that first roused his curiosity. --Tom Nissley