York alumna Kim Echlin makes the Giller Prize short list

York alumna Kim Echlin’s third novel, The Disappeared, has been named one of five books on this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize short list.

The announcement was made yesterday at a media conference in Toronto. Echlin’s The Disappeared (Hamish Hamilton Canada, 2009) beat seven other long list finalists, including The Factory Voice (Coteau Books, 2009), a first novel by York alumna Jeanette Lynes (BA Spec. Hons. ’79, MA ’80, PhD ’88), and Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood.

Right: York alumna Kim Echlin

Sharing the short list with Echlin for the $50,000 literary award are Colin McAdam for Fall, Linden MacIntyre for The Bishop’s Man, Annabel Lyon for The Golden Mean and Anne Michaels for The Winter Vault. The finalists will read at the International Festival of Authors closing night, Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

Echlin (MA ’77, PhD ’82) is also the author of Elephant Winter (Viking Press, 1997), Dagmar’s Daughter (Viking Press, 2001) and Inanna: From the Myths of Ancient Sumer (Groundwood Books, 2003). After completing her doctoral thesis on Ojibwa storytelling, Echlin travelled in search of stories through the Marshall Islands, China, France and Zimbabwe. Back in Canada, she became an arts documentary producer with CBC’s "The Journal". Her first novel, Elephant Winter, won the TORGI Talking Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the 1997 Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award.

The Disappeared tells the story of Anne Greves, from Montreal, who meets Serey, a Cambodian student forced into exile when he cannot return home during Pol Pot’s time of terror. Anne and Serey meet in a jazz club where their shared passion for music turns into a passion for each other, against the will of her father.

But when the borders of Cambodia open, Serey is compelled to return home, alone, to try to find his family. Left behind, and without word from her lover, Anne tries to build a new life but she cannot forget her first love. She decides to travel to the war-ravaged country that claimed Serey. What she finds there is a traumatized and courageous people struggling to create new freedoms out of the tragedy that claimed their traditional ways, their livelihood and a seventh of their population.

Novelist and short story writer Russell Banks, UK author and journalist Victoria Glendinning, and Canadian writer and University of Windsor Professor Emeritus Alistair MacLeod are the jury members who chose this year’s short list.

Each year, the $50,000 Giller Prize goes to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English and $5,000 goes to each of the finalists. The Scotiabank Giller Prize is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller and was founded in 1994 by her husband, Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch.

This year’s Giller Prize will be announced Nov. 10 at a gala black-tie dinner and award ceremony at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel.

For more information, visit the Scotiabank Giller Prize Web site.