Hanging Man: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei (Hardcover)

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The gripping story of post-Mao China and the harrowing fate of the artist and activist Ai Weiwei

In October 2010, Ai Weiwei's "Sunflower Seeds" appeared in the Turbine Hall in the Tate Modern. In April 2011, he was arrested and held for more than two months in terrible conditions. The most famous living Chinese artist and activist, Weiwei is a figure of extraordinary talent, courage, and integrity. From the beginning of his career, he has spoken out against the world's most powerful totalitarian regime, in part by creating some of the most beautiful and mysterious artworks of our age, works which have touched millions around the world.

Just after Ai Weiwei's release from illegal detention, Barnaby Martin flew to Beijing to interview him about his imprisonment and to learn more about what is really going on behind the scenes in the upper echelons of the Chinese Communist Party. Based on these interviews and Martin's own intimate connections with China, "Hanging Man" is an exploration of Weiwei's life, art, and activism and also a meditation on the creative process, and on the history of art in modern China. It is a rich picture of the man and his milieu, of what he is trying to communicate with his art, and of the growing campaign for democracy and accountability in China. It is a book about courage and hope found in the absence of freedom and justice.

About the Author

Barnaby Martin is a journalist who has written for The Daily Telegraph and has spent many years living in China. He has written novels, some of which were bestsellers, under a pen name.

Praise For…

“Martin's vivid and affecting portrait attests both to Weiwei's now severely restricted circumstances and his undiminished spirit and conviction as an artist of conscience and a resounding champion for freedom and democracy, responsibility and justice.”—Donna Seaman, Booklist


“Engaging and timely . . . Martin takes care to establish the historical, political, and artistic context of Ai’s work . . . An excellent introduction to Ai and the power of contemporary Chinese art.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)


“A book that offers great clarity on an important subject without succumbing to oversimplification.”—Kirkus (starred review)


“[Martin's] fascinating, well-written book has many layers . . . Martin does an excellent job in linking Ai’s case to that of other intellectuals and artists, and to the broader issues China faces.”—Jonathan Fenby, The Times


“Fascinating ... Hanging Man is a com­pelling study of Ai's work ­and significance.”—Stuart Kelly, Scotsman


“Martin's passion for the integrity of the artists and writers who pioneered China's artistic renaissance after Mao lifts this account . . . The result is a memorable snapshot of the inspiring figures who remain true to their creative ideals in today's China, despite the official repression of originality.”—Isabel Hilton, The Guardian


Hanging Man is the most detailed, comprehensive and eloquent English-language account of what happens these days to Chinese political prisoners . . .  I want to underline how grateful I am to Martin for eluding Ai's guards and giving the artist an unequalled chance to explain what befell him . . . This is an invaluable book.” —Jonathan Mirsky, Literary Review

 “Barnaby Martin reveals not only the psyche of China’s most celebrated artist and dissident, but through him—and through his prism of art—a whole society in crisis.” —Colin Thubron, author of To a Mountain in Tibet 

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374167752
ISBN-10: 0374167753
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: September 17th, 2013
Pages: 245
Language: English