Madeleine O’Dea is a writer who has been covering the political, economic, and cultural life of China for the past three decades. Her memoir/history of post-Cultural Revolution China, The Phoenix Years, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2016.


The Phoenix Years won the Alex Buzo Shortlist Prize at the 2017 Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award, which honours excellence in literary research, and was long-listed for the 2017 Walkley Book Award. It was also chosen by the Grattan Institute for their 2016 Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister. To learn more about The Phoenix Years please listen in to Madeleine on ABC’s Conversations with Richard Fidler.

Madeleine worked for five years with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canberra before entering journalism as the Beijing correspondent for The Australian Financial Review in 1986.

She subsequently covered China throughout the 1990s as a producer with ABC Television, and then spent the early 2000s freelancing out of Europe with a focus on international arts. In 2004 she moved back to Beijing to take up a position as a presenter and editor with China Radio International and later served as the arts editor for the magazine, the Beijinger.

In 2010 she became the founding editor-in-chief of ARTINFO China and Asia correspondent for, and Art+Auction and Modern Painters magazines.

She has written extensively on international arts and culture for a range of other publications including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, the Toronto Globe and Mail, The Art Newspaper, and Leap, 24 Hours, HQ, Limelight, Orientations, and Vive magazines.

Now an independent writer, Madeleine lives in Sydney.

The Phoenix Years was published by Pegasus Books in North America in October 2017.

Madeleine can be contacted via this website or c/o her agent Margaret Gee: