In 2011 Ai Weiwei was arrested without notice by the Chinese authorities and detained for 81 days. Here he writes a letter to his son Ai Lao who was two years old when he disappeared. It contains a detailed account of the rules and routines he was obliged to uphold during his detention.

It’s part of a series in which writers from around the world read letters on the theme of imprisonment, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis.

Oscar Wilde was incarcerated in Reading Prison between 1895 and 1897, enduring the Separate System, a harsh penal regime designed to eliminate any contact between prisoners. Wilde’s imprisonment led to one of his last great works – De Profundis, an extended letter to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas written by Wilde in his prison cell.

Produced by Barney Rowntree and Jeremy Mortimer
Executive Producer: Joby Waldman

A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter

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