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1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows by Ai Weiwei

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.


Join Ai Weiwei on a U.S. tour for a series of virtual and in-person events celebrating the release of 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows. Ticketing info below. For events in the U.K., click here.

Nov 03 2021 (Wed)
Virtual event
Virtual event co-hosted by the Dallas Museum of Art, Writer’s Bloc, Skirball Cultural Center, and University Club of Chicago
In conversation with Theaster Gates and Louise Bernard. Tickets available from each of the event partners at the following links
8:00 PM EDT
Nov 03 2021 (Wed)
Virtual event
see above
additional ticketing option for co-hosted event with Theaster Gates and Louise Bernard
8:00 PM EDT
Nov 03 2021 (Wed)
Virtual event
see above
additional ticketing option for co-hosted event with Theaster Gates and Louise Bernard
8:00 PM EDT
Nov 06 2021 (Sat)
Virtual event
Virtual event hosted by City Arts and Lectures (based in San Francisco, CA)
7:30 PM PDT
Nov 10 2021 (Wed)
Brooklyn Academy of Music (Brooklyn, NY)
Live in-person event with the Brooklyn Academy of Music in partnership with PEN America and Greenlight Bookstore
7:00 PM EDT

Early Praise

“[This memoir] is both intimate and expansive, an interrogation of art and freedom. . . . It’s a fascinating sociopolitical history, and a behind-the-scenes look at how one of the world’s most significant living artists became who he is.”—Time

“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 

“With uncommon humanity, humbling scholarship, and poignant intimacy, Ai Weiwei recounts a life of courage, argument, defeat, and triumph. 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

“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

“This is the rarest sort of memoir, rising above the arc of history to grasp at the limits of the soul. Ai’s work is a remarkable testament to the eternal power of the simple, daring truth, underlining that an artist without the courage to speak it is merely a decorator—and a citizen without it is a subject.”—Edward Snowden, author of 
Permanent Record

“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.”—Evan Osnos, author of 
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China

“One thousand years of joys and sorrows are here concentrated into a mere one hundred. 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

“Revelatory and moving . . . Ai Weiwei’s historically precise, generously candid, and deeply delving chronicle is clarion testimony to how intrinsic art is to human nature and to defining and protecting human rights.”—
Booklist (starred review)

“Engrossing . . . Ai creates a vivid portrait of two generations grappling with their place in the Chinese cultural and political landscape, and gives readers a glimpse of his approach to art and the creative process. Highly recommended.”—
Library Journal (starred review)

“An extravagantly rewarding hybrid: a combination history of modern China, biography of a dissident poet and memoir by his provocateur son . . . a rousing but even-tempered call to action . . . His book is the story of an artist finding his voice.”—
Shelf Awareness

“Fluid, heartfelt . . . A beautiful and poignant memoir demonstrating perseverance and the power of art.”—
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Also Available

Selected Poems by Ai Qing, with a foreword by Ai Weiwei
Selected Poems by Ai Qing, with a foreword by Ai Weiwei

Ai Qing: Selected Poems

With a foreword by Ai Weiwei

A timeless, visionary collection of poems from one of China’s most acclaimed poets—now available in English for the first time in a generation and featuring a foreword by his son, contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei

Image of Ai Weiwei

Photo: © Ai Weiwei Studio

Ai Weiwei is one of the world's most important living artists. Born in 1957, he lives in Cambridge, UK.

AI QING is regarded as one of the finest modern Chinese poets, whose free verse was influential in the development of new poetry in China.

Robert Dorsett (translator, Selected Poems) studied Chinese at the Yale-in-China Program at the Chinese University in Hong Kong. He received an M.D. from the State University of New York. He translated Wen Yiduo’s Stagnant Water & Other Poems and the memoirs of Gao Ertai, In Search of My Homeland: A Memoir of a Chinese Labor Camp, with David Pollard. Robert Dorsett has also published his own poetry in The Literary Review, The Cortland Review, Northwest Review, Poetry, and elsewhere.

Allan H. Barr (translator, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows) is the author of a study in Chinese of a literary inquisition in the early Qing dynasty, Jiangnan yijie: Qing ren bixia de Zhuangshi shi’an 江南一劫:清人笔下的庄氏史案, and the translator of several books by contemporary Chinese authors, including Yu Hua’s China in Ten Words and Han Han’s This Generation. He teaches Chinese at Pomona College in California.

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Crown is proud to partner with these international publishers for the worldwide publication of 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows. An English-language edition will be published in Canada by Bond Street Books, an imprint of Doubleday Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada and in the UK and British Commonwealth territories by The Bodley Head, an imprint of Vintage at Penguin Random House UK. It will also be available in the following languages:

GERMAN C. Bertelsmann, an imprint of Penguin Verlag/Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe; PORTUGUESE BRAZIL Companhia das Letras; PORTUGUESE PORTUGAL Objectiva/Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial; SPANISH Debate/Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial; COMPLEX CHINESE China Times Publishing Company; CZECH Paseka Publishing House; DANISH Gyldendal; DUTCH Lebowski Publishers; FRENCH Libella Publishing Group;  ITALIAN Edizioni Piemme; NORWEGIAN Cappelen Damm; POLISH Wydawnictwo Karakter; SWEDISH Wahlstrom & Widstrand