Kim Echlin


I lost count of how many times I was caught off-guard by the poignancy of this novel…This story of motherhood and friendship, anchored by two extraordinary heroines, will stay with me for a long time
Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

The sweaty clubs are vividly evoked, the music almost rising off the page. Rather than a study of stardom, the novel turns a spotlight on the jobbing players, the ranks of professional musicians who gamely keep on swinging but who never get the big breaks. It’s all the more effective – and poignant – for that.
The Guardian

This novel is a love song to music itself, the true and requited love of these gifted musicians’ lives
Globe & Mail

Fatherless Katherine carries the stigma of her mixed-race background through an era that is hostile to her and all she represents. It is only through music that she finds the freedom to temporarily escape and dream of a better life, nurturing this hard-won refuge throughout the vagaries of unexpected motherhood and an absent husband, and relying on her talent to build a future. Her closest friend, Mahsa, also faces resistances, the violent loss of her parents, an arranged marriage, and manages to raise her children and devote herself to music. Together these two remarkable characters speak to the power of women’s friendships and shared creativity.

An elegiac, beautifully told memory-tale of obsessive love. A young Canadian woman’s bildungsroman … a profoundly moving account of the genocidal horrors of the Cambodian killing fields and its terrible aftermath. Written in elegant, spare prose, The Disappeared confronts one of the most painful conflicts of our time; the collision between our private, personal desires and the brutal, dehumanizing facts of modern history.
 – Jury, Scotiabank Giller Prize 2009

 Powerful and moving.
– The Times (UK)

Anne Greves is a motherless Canadian girl and her lover, Serey, a gentle Cambodian rebel and exiled musician. One day he leaves their Montreal flat to seek out his family in the aftermath of Pol Pot’s savage revolution. After a decade without word, Anne abandons everything to search for him in Phnom Penh, a city traumatized by the Khmer Rouge slaughter.

Powerful … an incredibly forceful book that insists readers sit up and pay attention; despite the gains made with the Foča trial, most of us continue to ignore abuses taking place around the world. With [Speak, Silence], Echlin demands more of us.
– Quill & Quire, starred review

 [Women survivors of war] witnessed their ordeal in The Hague’s International Tribunal…This carefully researched and well-crafted novel, based on these true events, is an impressive monument to the women.
 Slavenka Drakulic, journalist and author of They Would Never Hurt a Fly

Speak, Silence weaves together the experiences of a resilient sisterhood and tells the story of the real-life trial that would come to shape justice by making sexual assault in war a Crime Against Humanity for the first time in history. This atrocity will no longer be a crime against individuals but a crime against all of us. In a heart-wrenching tale of suffering and loss and a beautiful illustration of power and love, Echlin explores what it means to speak out against the very people who would do anything to silence you.

Echlin uses old forms of storytelling, blending myth and lyrical language to translate music into words. So much beautiful language and fantastic imagery at first seem self-conscious, but when the narrative picks up speed, drawing readers into the strange world of Millstone Nether, the power of the story takes hold and doesn’t let go
— Quill & Quire

Mystical, seductive, and brimming with music and magic, Dagmar’s Daughter follows three generations of passionate women. Norea emerges from the destitute Irish village of her childhood and stows herself on a ship bound for a remote island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Her daughter, Dagmar, is born with an uncanny ability to control the weather, and Dagmar’s daughter Nyssa is as musically brilliant as her father and as struck with wanderlust.

Elephant Winter is enormously engaging, unusual enough to catch the popular imagination, and well and wisely enough written to endure
Quill & Quire

In prose both eloquent and controlled, she fearlessly links the often-anguished sanctity of the mother/daughter bond with the spiritual affinity humans can feel for animals
– Publisher’s Weekly

Sophie Walker is back from Africa to nurse her dying mother. Her mother’s Ontario farm borders on “Safari”—a tacky tourist spot now deserted for the winter. From her mother’s window Sophie sees not cows, or horses, but a group of Indian elephants playing gracefully in the snow. Elephant Winter is a novel about language and the forms of intimacy, from the turbulent love between a mother and daughter to the fulfilling bond between Sophie and the elephants.

This vivacity is well-evidenced in Echlin’s superb translation, which should be considered an essential text.
Publisher’s Weekly

Kim Echlin writes about her subject with something like pure love, and it is a subject that deserves that kind of passion as well as the scholarship she has devoted to it.
W.S. Merwin

Inanna, a goddess of ancient Mesopotamia, was worshipped around 2300 BCE by our ancestors in the land that is modern-day Iraq. Lost for millennia, Inanna’s stories were buried and forgotten, unearthed by archaeologists only recently, around the turn of the 19th century. Their translation has been a remarkable work of collaboration by scholars from disparate parts of the globe, as fragments of stone tablets were pieced together and the symbols on them recorded, transliterated, and interpreted.

In Elizabeth Smart, Kim Echlin has found an exemplar for all women who seek to live and work by their individual truths. This is an important book. Every woman reader will identify with the problems that continue to be hurdles in the path of the total development of her dual imperatives. Every woman reader will also be heartened and strengthened by Echlin’s testimony to the process of her own on-going quest.
Clara Thomas, Books in Canada

Tenderly and with amiable grace, Kim Echlin probes the hidden story of upper crust bohemian Elizabeth Smart – and brings to life an era that casts a disturbing light on our own time. Bright and beautiful, Smart wanted to dedicate herself to art. Her life became a painful contradiction: She ended by raising four children in dire poverty, desperate for time to write, while serving up meals and good times to fellow artists (male) who openly mocked and derided women’s creativity. Echlin’s fluent prose is like a conversation among the ghosts of women writers: intimate as gossip, indignant, joyfully sensuous, brooding over the perplexities of the writing life of women then and now. I read this lovely book in one gulp.
 Michele Landsberg, Toronto Star

A new look at the life of Canadian writer, Elizabeth Smart (By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept). Echlin examines the tensions between creativity and motherhood in the context of women writers who create female characters with a will toward individuality. Weaving in her own experiences of the social pressures which push women’s creativity to the margins, Echlin highlights Smart’s unwavering commitment to writing in a voice and aesthetic form that reflects authentic female creativity.

A collection of poetry in translation by Syrian poet and activist, Rasha Omran, in collaboration with Abdelrehim Youssef and Monica Pareschi. Selected, introduced, and co-translated by Kim Echlin.

Read More.

New book – coming soon! The Story of Enheduanna

Enheduanna was a Sumerian priestess, poet, and ambassador who lived about four millennia ago between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in what is contemporary Iraq. She lived long before Homer and Sappho and was the only daughter of King Sargon, the first leader to create an extensive empire. She was High Priestess of Ur, and the human embodiment of the wife of the moon. She worshipped Inanna, a powerful deity of love and justice, a protector of the marginalized, and of widows and orphans. Her cultic priests included a group called sag-ur-sags who cross-dressed and likely identified as transgendered.

Enheduanna is the first writer in history to write her own name into her poetry. Her stylistic audacity and extraordinary vocabulary and imagery include descriptions of fiery mountains and of an exile begun wearing a crown of thorns, of poetry as birth, of lamentation, sacrifice, and joy in love. She is a genius. She wrote a cycle of 42 temple hymns to unify the belief systems of north and south. Her poetic masterpiece, now known as “The Exaltation of Inanna,” was copied as a school exercise for centuries after her death and continues to fascinate contemporary scholars.