The White Road

The White Road : a pilgrimage of sorts

3.79 (1,110 ratings by Goodreads)
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** A Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller **

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 **
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Product details

  • Hardback | 416 pages
  • 153 x 230 x 43mm | 698g
  • Chatto & Windus
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0701187700
  • 9780701187705
  • 134,701

Review Text

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

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 *
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About 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 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. The White Road, a journey into the history of porcelain, was published in 2015. He lives in London with his family.
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Rating details

1,110 ratings
3.79 out of 5 stars
5 27% (297)
4 38% (421)
3 25% (280)
2 7% (83)
1 3% (29)
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