Published: Nov. 1, 2017

Madeleine O'Dea talks about her new book, The Phoenix Years.

The riveting story of China's rise from economic ruin to global giant in four decades is illuminated by another, equally fascinating, narrative beneath its surface―the story of the country's emerging artistic avant-garde and the Chinese people's ongoing struggle for freedom of expression. 

By following the stories of nine contemporary Chinese artists, The Phoenix Years shows how China's rise unleashed creativity, thwarted hopes, and sparked tensions between the individual and the state that continue to this day. It relates the heady years of hope and creativity in the 1980s, which ended in the disaster of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Following that tragedy comes China's meteoric economic rise, and the opportunities that emerged alongside the difficult compromises artists and others have to make to be citizens in modern China.

Madeleine O'Dea is a writer and journalist who has been covering the political, economic and cultural life of China for the past three decades. She first went to Beijing in 1986 as the correspondent for the Australian Financial Review newspaper, and covered China through the 1990s as a producer with ABC Television. She was the founding editor-in-chief of Artinfo China and the Asia correspondent for Art + Auction and Modern Painters magazines, and has also written about China for a range of other publications including the Guardian, The Art Newspaper, Bazaar Art, and The Australian newspaper. Her intimate history of post Cultural Revolution China, The Phoenix YearsArt, resistance and the making of modern China was published in Australia last year by Allen & Unwin and is forthcoming in North America in October 2017 with Pegasus Books.