Ai Weiwei, Chinese Artist and Dissident, To Publish Memoir in 2017

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Ai Weiwei is finally putting his leg down and picking up a pen. The New York Times reports that the famed Chinese artist, activist, and dissident has signed a deal with Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, to release his first book, a memoir, in 2017.

Ai’s publisher promises the still-untitled memoir will double as “an extraordinary cultural history of China over the past 100 years, told through the prism of both [Ai Weiwei’s] own life story and that of his father, Ai Qing.” The memoir will also touch upon his development as an artist while living in the United States during the ’80s and ’90s, as well as more recent events, like his 81-day detention by Chinese authorities at a Beijing airport in 2011.

In a statement, Ai said: “I write about my father, his generation, and my own experience, our struggle for individual freedom and self-expression in this old society” and also implies that his act of writing a memoir is inherently political, particularly in Chinese because “The history of totalitarianism is one characterized by the state’s continuous attempts to destroy individual memories.”