Press Releases


For Immediate Release
Contact: Rachel Rokicki


(October 14, 2015 – New York, NY) Ai Weiwei, one of the most prominent and provocative artists of our time, is writing a sweeping memoir scheduled for worldwide publication in spring 2017.

As yet untitled, Ai Weiwei’s book will be published in print, digital and audio formats in the U.S. by Crown, a division of Penguin Random House. It will simultaneously be released in the UK by Bodley Head and in Canada by Doubleday Canada, both also imprints of Penguin Random House. Other countries where the book will be published in 2017 include Germany (Verlasgruppe Random House); Holland (Lebowski); Italy (Piemme); France (Lattes); Brazil (Companhia das Letras); Spain (Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial/Debate); Denmark (Gyldendal); Sweden (Wahltrom & Widstrand); and Norway (Cappelen Damm).

Rachel Klayman, Vice President, Executive Editor, Crown, acquired World Rights from Peter W. Bernstein and Amy D. Bernstein at Bernstein Literary Agency and will edit the book.

Hailed by the New York Times as “an eloquent and unsilenceable voice of freedom” and by the Financial Times as “the most important artist working today,” Ai Weiwei has been the subject of two award-winning documentaries and numerous monographs and books. In his memoir, he will offer an extraordinary cultural history of China over the past one hundred years, told through the prism of both his own life story and that of his father, Ai Qing. One of China’s most important twentieth-century poets, Ai Qing was an early intimate of Mao Zedong, for whom he devised early Chinese Communist Party policies on art and literature. Ai Qing was later branded a rightist and banished to the Gobi Desert, where he was sentenced to hard labor that included five years of cleaning public toilets.

Ai Weiwei will recount his formative years in the United States from 1981 to 1993. After his return to Beijing in 1993, Ai, a self-taught architect, built numerous projects ranging from his studio and home at 258 Caochangdi to the Olympic Stadium for Beijing’s 2008 Olympic Games together with the Swiss firm Herzog and de Meuron.

Ai will take readers behind the scenes of his prolific artistic career spanning hundreds of exhibitions in institutions worldwide. Through his influential blogs, Twitter, and Instagram, he has acquired a broad following on social media and created new platforms for discussing human rights, censorship, and corruption. His activism led to the Chinese authorities’ demolition of his Shanghai studio, his secret detention without charge for eighty-one days in 2011, and the subsequent confiscation of his passport without cause for four years.

Ai Weiwei says, “I write about my father, his generation, and my own experience, our struggle for individual freedom and self-expression in this old society. I live in a totalitarian society (so did my father), which denies human freedom and values. Eliminating individual memories is an important method that authorities use to control people’s thinking. Therefore, such political culture has made it extremely difficult to write down one’s memory or those of a family. Totalitarianism contravenes human nature and human ideals. The history of totalitarianism is one characterized by the state’s continuous attempts to destroy individual memories.”

Said Molly Stern, Senior Vice President, Publisher, Crown: “Ai Weiwei is one of the most galvanizing and inspired artists in the world today and a true force of conscience. Beyond serving as a timely reminder of the urgent need to protect freedom of expression, the publication of his memoir will offer a global readership unique insight into what animates his astonishing life and work as well as a deeper understanding of the myriad forces that have shaped modern China.”

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Please direct all translation-rights queries to Lance Fitzgerald, VP, Director of Subsidiary Rights, Crown Publishing Group:

Crown is an imprint of The Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Penguin Random House ( is the world’s first truly global trade book publisher. It was formed on July 1, 2013, upon the completion of an agreement between Bertelsmann and Pearson to merge their respective trade publishing companies, Random House and Penguin, with the parent companies owning 53 percent and 47 percent, respectively. Penguin Random House comprises the adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital trade book publishing businesses of Penguin and Random House in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India; Penguin’s trade publishing activity in Asia and South Africa; DK worldwide; and Random House’s companies in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, and Chile. Penguin Random House employs more than 10,000 people globally, across almost 250 editorially and creatively independent imprints and publishing houses that collectively publish more than 15,000 new titles annually. Its publishing lists include more than 70 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.

The Crown Publishing Group