From the award-winning author that gave us the bestselling international sensation, The Hare with Amber Eyes, The White Road is an unusual mix of memoir and history, which outlines Edmund De Waal’s passion for pottery.
In The White Road, bestselling author and artist Edmund de Waal gives us an intimate narrative history of his lifelong obsession with porcelain, or “white gold.” A potter who has been working with porcelain for more than forty years, de Waal describes how he ventured on five journeys to places where porcelain was dreamed about, refined, collected and coveted, which would help him understand the percelain’s allure. From his studio in London, he starts by travelling to three “white hills” – sites in China, Germany and England that are pertinent to porcelain’s creation. His search takes him around the globe and reveals more than a history of cups and figurines; rather, he is forced to confront some of the darkest moments of twentieth-century history.
Part memoir, part history, The White Road chronicles this obsession with alchemy, art, craft and purity, which all often relates to weath. This obsession, however, albeit intimate, does not effectively pull me in to feel interested in the creation of pottery, and primarily white. After the successful The Hare with Amber Eyes, I had high expectation and the language in The White Road often seems a little forced. Sadly I am not drawn into the subject, as you expect the writing to take you there. Despite his eloquent use of language, I am not driven to read on about his quest to delve deep into the cities and towns where porcelain was made. Some of the factual history that resides within is interesting and for that it is worth the read, but this is one more for the ceramicists and potters, with a clear focus on the purity and aesthetic of white pottery.
The White Road is available now, published by Chatto & Windus