Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal is a contemporary British ceramicist and author. He was known for both his large-scale installations of pottery and his two books The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010) and The White Road (2015). He received a BA Honors in English literature in 1983 from the University of Cambridge, and a postgraduate diploma in Japanese language in 1992 from the University of Sheffield. His ceramics are held in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. De Waal’s acclaimed memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes was the winner of the Costa Biography Award and the 2011 RSL Ondaatje Prize. In 2015 de Waal was awarded the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for nonfiction by Yale University. He lives and works in London.

Out of Egypt 

Andre Aciman

Aciman’s memoir of his Sephardic Jewish family in Alexandria –polyglot, demonstrative, fissile- is the most extraordinary evocation of childhood that I know. His somatic memory of the sensations of place are intense and lyrically evoked. It is a threnody for Alexandria: ‘I wanted to come back tomorrow night, and the night after, and the one after that as well, sensing that what made leaving so fiercely painful was the knowledge that there would never be another night like this, that I would never eat soggy cakes along the coast road in the evening, not this year or any other year, nor feel the baffling, sudden beauty of that moment when, if only for an instant, I had caught myself longing for a city I never knew I loved.'

Hold Still  

Sally Mann

Sally Mann is not only one of the most acclaimed photographers in the world she is also is a wondrous writer. Her memoir of her life in rural Virginia is an exercise in an unflinching examination of race and heat and beauty: ‘the gracious spender of its lost world founded on a monstrous crime.’ She writes of the fecundity and the cruelty, the ‘profligate physical beauty …the landscape appears to soften before your eyes and become seductively vague, as if inadequately summoned up by some shiftless creator casually neglectful of the details.’ And it is full of her photographs.

A Berlin childhood around 1909

Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin’s autobiography told through fragments, was ‘written in small sections: a form I am repeatedly led to adopt…by the materially precarious nature of my work.’ His writings are a kind of archaeology. He digs into childhood memories- the way you map your bedroom apartment, front door, pavement, tram stop, walk to school. And in doing so he remakes Berlin.