Edmund de Waal: The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance
This memoir recounts the story of a collection of 264 tiny Japanese wood and ivory carvings called netsuke inherited by Edmund de Waal. Having spent thirty years making ceramic pots—which are then sold, collected, and dispersed into the world—de Waal has a particular sense of the secret lives of objects; he wanted to know who had touched and held the netsuke before him, and how the collection had managed to survive.
Digging into his family’s history, de Waal traces a narrative that follows both the netsuke and the lineage of his family, the Ephrussis, over five generations. A nineteenth-century banking dynasty in Paris and Vienna, the Ephrussis were as rich and respected as the Rothchilds. Yet by the end of World War II, when the netsuke were hidden from the Nazis in Vienna, this collection of very small carvings was all that remained of their vast empire.