Crown, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, will publish 1000 YEARS OF JOYS AND SORROWS, the highly anticipated memoir from Ai Weiwei, one of the world’s most important living artists, on November 2, 2021. A global publishing event, 1000 YEARS OF JOYS AND SORROWS will be translated into thirteen languages with rights already placed in fifteen markets. The book will be published in hardcover and digital formats by Crown, and an audio edition will be simultaneously released by Penguin Random House Audio. World rights were acquired by Crown from Peter Bernstein and Amy Bernstein at Bernstein Literary Agency, with SVP & Publisher Gillian Blake and Executive Editor Libby Burton editing.
“The idea for this book came to me during the eighty-one days I was held in secret detention by the Chinese government in 2011,” says Ai Weiwei. “During those long weeks, I thought often of my father, a poet who had been exiled during Mao Zedong’s Anti-Rightist Campaign. I realized how incomplete my understanding of him was and how much I regretted the unbridgeable gap between us. I did not want my son to suffer the same regret. I resolved that if I was released I would write down what I knew of my father and tell my son honestly who I am, what life is like, why freedom is so precious, and why autocracy fears art.”
In 1000 YEARS OF JOYS AND SORROWS, Ai Weiwei gives us an astonishing portrait of China over the last hundred years, while illuminating his artistic process. Weiwei explores the origins of his exceptional creativity and passionate political beliefs, and powerfully reveals the story of his father, Ai Qing, once an intimate of Mao Zedong and China’s most influential poet. During China’s Cultural Revolution, Ai Qing was branded as a rightist and sentenced to hard labor. His whole family, including his son, was banished to a remote and desolate part of the country known as “Little Siberia.” In his memoir, Weiwei describes 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 Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol. With candor 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.
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. 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.
Simultaneously with 1000 YEARS OF JOYS AND SORROWS, Crown will publish SELECTED POEMS by Ai Weiwei’s father, Ai Qing, China’s most celebrated poet, on November 2, 2021. This new translation, available in English for the first time in a generation, will feature a foreword by Ai Weiwei and an original cover designed by Ai Lao, the son of Ai Weiwei and grandson of Ai Qing. SELECTED POEMS will be published in hardcover and digital formats by Crown. Crown acquired world rights from Peter Bernstein and Amy Bernstein at Bernstein Literary Agency.