Praise for The Phoenix Years :
“‘Amidst all the chatter about China lies this rock of a book, a magnificent memoir/ history from the very core of modern Chinese society and history. It’s a wonderful thing where the essential book and the delightful book are, as in this case, the one thing. Let no one speak of China who has not read The Phoenix Years.” Tom Keneally, author of Schindler’s List.
Renée Reynolds reviews The Phoenix Years for the LA Review of Books:
“This book is a rare, vital, compassionate record celebrating what a cross-section of extraordinary people in China have managed to create and to share with the world. The multiple vantage points woven together in their stories ensure that there is something for any reader interested in modern China. ”
Radii China chooses The Phoenix Years as on on its five “hot ticket China reads” for Summer 2018.
“I wanted to tell a story, and for people at the end of it to know more about what had happened in China over the last forty years. But I also wanted them to feel something about that story, to care, and to understand that these are people like us.”
“The Phoenix Years is an essential background history of modern China–personal reporting that shows how economic freedom and artistic freedom must go hand in hand.”
Booklist, October 1, 2017:
“[O’Dea] makes geopolitical history accessible and engaging through the lives and experiences of such individual artists as Huang Rui and Guo Jian. O’Dea writes for readers new to art, offering straightforward descriptions of individual works, and new to Chinese history, explaining the nuts and bolts of crucial policies and protests. By focusing on how individuals experienced communism and resisted it, O’Dea succeeds in making history human.”
“To call The Phoenix Years merely a history of Chinese art might be akin to calling Madame Bovary a novel about some affairs.”
“Beautifully crafted and immensely readable. Required reading for all those who seek to understand how China has stumbled repressively through the past 40 years and how its finest citizens have persisted in trying to imagine a better, freer China. O’Dea does not put a foot wrong. The soul of the book, however, breathes in her account of the lives and artistic endeavours of a range of people.”
“moving, intimate mix of history, memoir and reportage”
“An illuminating chronicle of several generations of resilient and beleaguered Chinese artists, with mini-biographies, a helpful timeline, and extensive notes.”