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1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows by Ai Weiwei (2021) Online Book Club

June 28, 2022

Tuesday, June 28th from 4:30PM to 6:30PM (PDT)   or

Thursday, June 30th from 4:30PM to 6:30PM (PDT)

Many know Ai Weiwei as China’s most controversial and perhaps most dangerous artist.   As we see from his documentaries or through his accessible installations that can be walked on, around or under, Ai Weiwei continues breaking boundaries to create thought provoking art.   In this book club, Tese Neighbor discussed Ai Weiwei’s first memoir entitled 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows.  

In many ways, Ai Weiwei’s life parallels his father’s, the famed poet Ai Qing (1910-1996). The title comes from words his father penned “Of a thousand years of joys and sorrow/ Not a trace can be found/You who are living, live the best life you can/Don’t count on the earth to preserve memory.” Ai Weiwei dedicates his preserved memories to his young son Ai Lao – and we are lucky to get a glimpse of  his captivating life, covered in 380 pages.

According to The Guardian,1,000 Years of Joys and Sorrows touches on the inevitable contradictions of being an activist and an art superstar, but it is above all a story of inherited resilience, strength of character and self-determination.” “Like a star in the sky or a tree in a field, he was always there as a compass point,” Ai writes, reflecting on his father’s death in 1996. “And in a quiet and mysterious way he helped me navigate in a direction all my own.  By the very absence of explicit guidance, a spiritual connection was forged between us; Father, in his own way, protected me.”   The New York Times review of this memoir can be found here.

Book group leader 

Tese Wintz Neighbor

Date and time

The same program was offered on two dates.

Tuesday, June 28th from 4:30PM to 6:30PM (PDT)

Thursday, June 30th from 4:30PM to 6:30PM (PDT)


  • Teachers received a digital or physical copy of the book and four WA OSPI clock hours