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Ai Weiwei: ‘I’m a traveller – I don’t have a sense of belonging’

As he releases his memoir, Ai Weiwei speaks to Rory Sullivan about burning his first copy with his son, remembering his father and what living in the US taught him

<p>The activist on the shore of Lesbos in 2016, where he set up a studio to highlight the plight of refugees </p>

The activist on the shore of Lesbos in 2016, where he set up a studio to highlight the plight of refugees

Flames dance around the corners of a book above a rectangle of grass. The title can still be made out but will soon disappear: 1,000 Years of Joys and Sorrows, a memoir by the celebrated Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei. Its pages crackle in the heat and turn to ash.

The book tells the story of China over the last 100 years through the extraordinary stories of his and his father’s lives

Book burnings are usually associated with censorship, fuelled by paranoia and rage, but as the author himself lights the fire, before standing back to watch the spectacle with his 12-year-old son Lao, this one takes on a different flavour.

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