Ai Weiwei memoir to The Bodley Head

Ai Weiwei memoir to The Bodley Head

The Bodley Head is to publish a "sweeping memoir" by artist and political activist Ai Weiwei.

As yet untitled, the book will be simultaneously published in the UK and in the US by Crown in spring 2017.

Stuart Williams, publishing director at The Bodley Head, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Crown.

In his memoir, Ai Weiwei will "offer an extraordinary cultural history of China over the past 100 years, told through the prism of both his own life story and that of his father, Ai Qing”.

He will "take readers behind the scenes of his prolific artistic career spanning hundreds of exhibitions in institutions worldwide".

The artist’s activism led to the Chinese authorities' demolition of his Shanghai studio, his secret detention without charge for 81 days in 2011, and the subsequent confiscation of his passport without cause for four years.

Ai Weiwei said: "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 characterised by the state’s continuous attempts to destroy individual memories."

Williams said: "Ai Weiwei has a singular power to speak to millions of people around the world, through his art and through his energetic defence of all manner of freedoms. We look forward enormously to publishing this spellbinding, century-long story of a family and of a nation."

Other countries where the book will be published in 2017 include Canada, by Doubleday Canada; Germany by Random House Germany; Holland by Lebowski; Italy by Piemme; France by Lattes; and Brazil by Companhia das Latras.