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About the book
  • Published: 24 September 2015
  • ISBN: 9781448137633
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 416

The White Road

a pilgrimage of sorts




The gripping story of the lure of porcelain, or 'white gold', from the Number One bestselling author of The Hare with Amber Eyes

** A Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller **

"Other things in the world are white but for me porcelain comes first"

A handful of clay from a Chinese hillside carries a promise: that mixed with the right materials, it might survive the fire of the kiln, and fuse into porcelain – translucent, luminous, white.

Acclaimed writer and potter Edmund de Waal sets out on a quest - a journey that begins in the dusty city of Jingdezhen in China and travels on to Venice, Versailles, Dublin, Dresden, the Appalachian Mountains of South Carolina and the hills of Cornwall to tell the history of porcelain. Along the way, he meets the witnesses to its creation; those who were inspired, made rich or heartsick by it, and the many whose livelihoods, minds and bodies were broken by this obsession. It spans a thousand years and reaches into some of the most tragic moments of recent times.

In these intimate and compelling encounters with the people and landscapes who made porcelain, Edmund de Waal enriches his understanding of this rare material, the ‘white gold’ he has worked with for decades.

** Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4 **

  • Pub date: 24 September 2015
  • ISBN: 9781448137633
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 416

About the Author

Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal is an artist whose porcelain is exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. His bestselling memoir, The Hare with the Amber Eyes, won the RSL Ondaatje prize and the Costa Biography Award and in 2015 he was awarded the Windham-Campbell prize for non-fiction by Yale University. He lives in London with his family.

www.edmunddewaal.com

Also by Edmund de Waal

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Praise for The White Road

“Sweeping in scope ... intimate in detail ... The White Road is a mesmirising and finely wrought work. It is also a cautionary tale about the price of beauty pursued at any cost.”

Ekow Eshun, Independent on Sunday

“I loved almost every word of de Waal's book. ... De Waal is intimate with the very stuff that he has tranformed so beautifully into pots; intimate with its history; intimate with the characters who make up its story. And yes, by the end, if this sort of elbow-grabbing book works for you - which it did triumphantly for me - he in intimate with his readers too”

A. N. Wilson, Financial Times

“Graceful and insightful… this book is certainly the finest account of the many meanings of porcelain to the modern world that I have read”

Tristram Hunt, The Times

“This book is a history of the making of porcelain – its discovery and rediscovery – from ancient China to Dachau. ... Mixed in with this history is a kind of autobiographical account of de Waal's own work. He says he thinks with his hands, and he is amazingly skilled at telling us what is happening as he feels the clay, turns the wheel, unloads the kiln.”

A. S. Byatt, The Spectator

“This is the most personal sort of book one can read: an account of a love affair. ... You learn everything you could possibly need to know about porcelain. ... You don't want to stop reading, because de Waal, with his sharp curator's eye, has excellent judgment when it comes to showing readers things that they will find fascinating, funny or moving.”

Daily Express

“De Waal writes beautifully, wears his learning lightly and charmingly and makes sure anyone and everyone will care deeply about the white stuff too.”

Robert Bound, Monocle

“Edmund de Waal's The Hare with Amber Eyes, the story of a collection of netsuke owned by his relatives, was a surprise bestseller. ... This account of china clay should claim an even greater readership. It deserves to. It is an even better book. I already have it marked down as my book of the year.”

The Tablet

“Edmund de Waal's poetic book is like a porcelain cup richly and delicately painted with the story of a mysterious substance and an alchemical art that have combined to enrich, enchant and sometimes ruin aficionados and artists alike.”

Saga Magazine

“This is a haunting book, a book that amasses itself piece by piece, gaining in weight.”

Olivia Laing, New Statesman

“Edmund de Waal has a way of making you care about handmade ceramics in a way no other writer does”

Ysenda Maxtone Graham, Country Life

“engaging and erudite”

Economist

“engaging and erudite”

Economist

“A single porcelain pot is sufficiently beautiful to behold, as is this dramatic, gloriously theatrical and irresistibly passionate pilgrimage into a dark hall of mirrors”

Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

“a lyrical yet admirably unflinching tale”

Moira Jeffrey, Scotsman

“a fascinating voyage”

Alex Sarll, UK Press Syndication

“A quirky memoir that engagingly weaves together a history of porcelain with his personal history”

Good Housekeeping

“A mighty achievement”

Kathleen Jamie, Guardian

“A compelling and thoroughly absorbing amalgam of history, autobiography, travelogue and philosophical ruminations on the nature of creativity and many other things besides”

Monica Bohm-Duchen, Jewish Chronicle

“De Waal…sees the world in a shard of white porcelain, thoughtfully and poetically tracing its invention and material production from imperial China through medieval Europe, and Cherokee creeks to the satanic factories of Nazi Germany. Global cultural history, structural and individual: this should be a humanising core text on the now sadly abandoned liberal arts curriculum.”

Professor E. Stina Lyon, Times Higher Education

“De Waal…sees the world in a shard of white porcelain, thoughtfully and poetically tracing its invention and material production from imperial China through medieval Europe, and Cherokee creeks to the satanic factories of Nazi Germany. Global cultural history, structural and individual: this should be a humanising core text on the now sadly abandoned liberal arts curriculum.”

Professor E. Stina Lyon, Times Higher Education

“An intimate and lyrical writer with a sophisticated grasp of cultural history… De Waal’s prose thrives on exchanges of curiousity… The White Road feels like a long book, and a long book may sometimes have qualities peculiar to its size. It may be by turns capricious, slow-drifting, and affected. It may yet enlarge your world.”

Julian Bell, New York Review of Books

“A stylishly written account with a surprisingly spiritual dimension. Engrossing.”

Rebecca Wallersteiner, Lady

“De Waal’s charm lies in his ability to undertake obsessive research, to pile up and accrue, to involve the reader in almost frantic travelling, note-taking and reading. There’s no doubting that The White Road is a mighty achievement.”

Kathleen Jamie, Guardian

“His enthusiasm is infectious... This is not just about one ancient industry – somehow, superbly, it's about industry itself”

William Leith, Evening Standard


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