Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal’s sure narrative instinct and lyrical imagination inform a deeply felt examination of the hold that objects have on our personal and collective memory.

Edmund de Waal is a British artist and author of the memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010). This moving family history follows the shifting ownership of 264 Japanese netsuke originally acquired in 1870s Paris by the cousin of de Waal’s great-grandfather Viktor Ephrussi. The figurines survived multiple migrations and the horrors of Nazism to reach de Waal, whose book was praised in the Guardian as constituting “a new genre, unnamed and maybe unnameable.” The Hare with Amber Eyes was awarded the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the Costa Book Award for Biography, and the Galaxy National Book Award for New Writer of the Year. De Waal's second book, The White Road, was published in December 2015. The White Road is a journey through a thousand years of stories about porcelain, from those who first made it in China to its collectors in Europe to those who were destroyed by it in the darkest moments of twentieth century history. It is de Waal’s memoir of making. His ceramics and installations have been exhibited in museums around the world. In 2011 he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to art.

I was making pancakes with my children when I received the phone call from Yale and I still cannot believe the news. Writing is slow and solitary, a passage through places and ideas, that can and has taken me years. To be affirmed in this generous and public way is an extraordinary and life-changing experience. I am moved that this award was created out a love of books and to be associated with this alone, is a tremendous honour. EDMUND DE WAAL