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  • Published: 2 November 2021
  • ISBN: 9781473522718
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 400

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: A Memoir

A Memoir




In his widely anticipated memoir, Ai Weiwei - one of the world's most famous artists and activists - tells a century-long epic tale of China through the story of his own extraordinary life and the legacy of his father Ai Qing, the nation's most celebrated poet

In his widely anticipated memoir, Ai Weiwei - one of the world's most famous artists and activists - tells a century-long epic tale of China through the story of his own extraordinary life and the legacy of his father, Ai Qing, the nation's most celebrated poet.

Hailed as 'the most important artist working today' (Financial Times) and 'an eloquent and unsilenceable voice of freedom' (New York Times), Ai Weiwei has written a sweeping memoir that presents a remarkable history of China over the last 100 years while illuminating his artistic process.

Ai Weiwei's sculptures and installations have been viewed by millions around the globe, and his architectural achievements include helping to design the iconic Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. His political activism has long made him a target of the Chinese authorities, which culminated in months of secret detention without charge in 2011. Here, for the first time, Ai Weiwei explores the origins of his exceptional creativity and passionate political beliefs through his own life story and that of his father, whose own creativity was stifled.

Once an intimate of Mao Zedong, Ai Weiwei's father was branded a rightist during the Cultural Revolution, and he and his family were banished to a desolate place known as 'Little Siberia', where Ai Qing was sentenced to hard labour cleaning public toilets. Ai Weiwei recounts his childhood in exile, and his difficult decision to leave his family to study art in America, where he befriended Allen Ginsberg and was inspired by Andy Warhol. With candour and wit, he details his return to China and his rise from artistic unknown to art world superstar and international human rights activist - and how his work has been shaped by living under a totalitarian regime.

At once ambitious and intimate, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows offers a deep understanding of the myriad forces that have shaped modern China, and serves as a timely reminder of the urgent need to protect freedom of expression.

  • Published: 2 November 2021
  • ISBN: 9781473522718
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 400

About the author

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist, designer, architect, curator, blogger and publisher.

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Praise for 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: A Memoir

The most important artist working today

Financial Times

An eloquent and unsilenceable voice of freedom

New York Times

Ai Weiwei is the kind of visionary any nation should be proud to count among its creative class. He has drawn the world's attention to the vibrancy of contemporary Chinese culture

Time Magazine

With uncommon humanity, humbling scholarship, and poignant intimacy, Ai Weiwei recounts a life of courage, argument, defeat, and triumph. He conjures the disparate phases and realities of China and explains how this country, which seems so changed from the outside, is consistent within. He is passionately committed to the cause of freedom and accountability, and though he is sometimes self-mocking and often witty, he has written a majestic and exquisitely serious masterpiece about his China, which is in fact a book about our world. His is one of the great voices of our time

Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity and Far and Away: How Travel Can Change the World

Ai Weiwei is one of the world's greatest living artists.He is a master of multiple media. His work is always thought-provoking, unpredictable and immensely personal

Elton John, author of Me: Elton John Official Autobiography

Ai Weiwei's 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows is an eloquent chronicleof the artist's own tumultuous life-including his arrest and detention in 2011 by Chinese authorities-and that of his father, the eminent poet Ai Qing, who was banished to a remote labor camp during Mao's Cultural Revolution; and a heartfelt letter to his young son, Ai Lao, explaining his convictions as an artist, activist and witness to history. At the same time, the book provides a clear-eyed picture-reminiscent, by turns, of Kafka and Solzhenitsyn-of several decades of Chinese history and the terrible costs of authoritarian rule. Like the author's brilliant installations and films, the book is an impassioned testament to the enduring powers of art-to challenge the state and the status quo, to affirm essential and inconvenient truths, and to assert the indispensable agency of imagination and will in the face of political repression

Michiko Kakutani, author of Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread

Ai Weiwei's intimate, unflinching memoir is an instant classic in the literature of China's rise, a protest against the destruction of memory, and a glorious testament to the power of free expression. For years, his art and activism has warned the world about autocracy. Now his prose lays bare a family's searing experience, with haunting clarity. This book says as much about the future as it does about the past

Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, True, and Faith in New China

1000 years of joys and sorrows are here concentrated into a mere 100. They are years that teem with life of a startling variety. The presentation is artful and the translation exquisite

Perry Link, author of An Anatomy of Chinese: Rhythm, Metaphor, Politics

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