4 minute read

Kim Echlin (1955–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

Born 1955, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Education: McGill University, B.A. (English; with honors), 1976; York University, M.A. (English), 1977, Ph.D. (English), 1982; studied French at Sorbonne, University of Paris, 1979.


Agent—c/o Westwood Creative Artists, 94 Harbord St., Toronto, Ontario M5S 1G6, Canada.


Writer, journalist, and educator. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, producer of The Journal (arts documentary), 1985–90; Ottawa Citizen, fiction editor, 1999–2003; freelance writer and editor. University of Toronto School for Continuing Studies, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, instructor in creative writing, 1997–2005; teacher at Ryerson School of Journalism, University of Guelph, and York University. Editor, Banff Centre for the Arts creative nonfiction workshop.

Honors Awards

McGeachy scholarship, United Church of Canada, 1999–2000; Canada Council for the Arts Award, 1998–99; Torgi Award; Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award nomination; National Magazine Award nomination.

Kim Echlin


(Translator and editor with Nie Zhixiong) Yuan Ke, Dragons and Dynasties: An Introduction to Chinese Mythology, Penguin (London, England), 1991.

Elephant Winter (novel), Viking (New York, NY), 1997.

(Editor) To Arrive Where You Are: Literary Journalism from the Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff Centre Press (Banff, Alberta, Canada), 1999.

Dagmar's Daughter (novel), Viking (New York, NY), 2001.

Inanna: From the Myth of Ancient Sumer (for children), illustrated by Linda Wolfsgruber, Groundwood Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

Elizabeth Smart: A Fugue Essay on Women and Creativity, Women's Press, 2004.

Contributor to books, including Best Canadian Essays, Fifth House Publishers, 1989; Up and Doing: Canadian Women and Peace, Women's Press, 1989; Taking Risks, Banff Centre Press, 1998; and Living Sideways: Trickster in American Indian Oral Traditions, University of Oklahoma Press, 2004. Contributor to periodicals, including Canadian Fiction and Studies in American Indian Literatures. Scriptwriter for television, including Life and Times series.


Canadian author, translator, editor, and teacher Kim Echlin has written two novels for adults as well as literary nonfiction and the illustrated storybook Inanna: From the Myth of Ancient Sumer. Echlin, who has taught creative writing at several Canadian universities, is also a literary scholar who has made a study of Ojibway trickster tales.

Associated with the planet Venus, Inanna is an ancient goddess that figured prominently in the civilization that In Inanna: From the Myth of Ancient Sumer Echlin collects the many stories featuring the ancient Sumerian warrior goddess who was worshiped for her wisdom, beauty, and power, as well as for her constant quest for knowledge. (Illustration by Linda Wolfsgruber.)existed in the location of modern-day Iraq over four thousand years ago. Although lost for centuries, her stories, carved on stone tablets, were recently recovered by archeologists. Sister to Gilgamesh, Inanna grows to maturity and through her determination, wisdom, and ambition she learns the extent of her own destructive and creative powers. In Inanna Echlin relates the warrior goddess's story in poetic form, from her birth as the daughter of the Moon god to her growing desire for her handsome shepherd brother Dumuzi (an Adonis-like character), her death and descent into the underworld, and her fight to regain her place on Earth as well as her power within the pantheon of Sumerian gods. Noting that the book, which is illustrated by European artist Linda Wolfsgruber, would be most valuable to young-adult readers, Patricia D. Lothrop wrote in School Library Journal that Inanna "could be an enticing introduction to a little-known figure from ancient Near East myth." In crafting her book-length story, Echlin positions traditional stories about the goddess "in chronological order, following Inanna's development from an eager, ambitious goddess to the position of the all-powerful queen whose 'light shines through everything,'" according to Resource Links contributor Joan Marshall. Marshall dubbed the book a "fascinating tale of a young goddess who knows how to get the power she wants."

Echlin's novels for adult readers, which include Elephant Winter and Dagmar's Daughter, are critically respected. Elephant Winter, the story of a young woman who returns to her rural Ontario home to tend to her dying mother and finds her life altered due to a romantic relationship with a wildlife caretaker at a neighboring safari park, was described as "enormously engaging" by Maureen Garvie in Quill & Quire. Frank Moher further observed in a Saturday Night review of the novel that Sophie's growing empathy is reflected by "prose that is as extravagant in feeling as it is in expression." Echlin draws on the ancient myths of Demeter and Persephone, as well as on the story of Inanna, in Dagmar's Daughter, in which a motherless teen is almost drowned before finding safety on a small island. The woman's story is interwoven with those of three generations of gifted Gaelic-speaking women into a novel that, although difficult, "rewards the effort," according to Canadian Woman Studies reviewer Clara Thomas. Noting that the novel's plot moves at a brisk pace, Elaine Jones added in Resource Links that Dagmar's Daughter relates "a powerful and intriguing story."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Books in Canada, April, 1997, p. 37.

Canadian Woman Studies, summer-fall, 2001, Clara Thomas, review of Dagmar's Daughter, p. 150.

[Image Not Available]

Quill & Quire, January, 1997, Maureen Garvie, review of Elephant Winter, p. 35; February, 2001, review of Dagmar's Daughter, p. 29.

Resource Links, October, 2002, Elaine Jones, review of Dagmar's Daughter, p. 55; December, 2003, Joan Marshall, review of Inanna, p. 36.

Saturday Night, March, 1997, Frank Moher, review of Elephant Winter, p. 14.

School Library Journal, March, 2004, Patricia D. Lothrop, review of Inanna, p. 299.


Groundwood Books Web site, http://www.groundwoodbooks.com/ (December 1, 2005), "Inanna."

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Craig David Biography - Became Teenage MC to Herman Edwards Biography