Demonic to Divine: the Double Life of Shulamis Yelin

Published in 2015 by Véhicule Press, Demonic to Divine is a weaving of the Montreal writer’s stories, selected diary excerpts and family photographs that reveal a far-reaching creative personality who was haunted from the age of ten by the “moods taking over.”

This book poignantly illuminates the dramatic duality of a public and private literary and emotional life through her published and unpublished stories of an idyllic Montreal Jewish immigrant childhood contrasted with deeply troubled and often shocking diary entries that document the author’s lifelong battle with mental illness.

Yelin’s insightful yet light and humorous stories have been cherished by generations of children and adults for their universal appeal. The journal entries that she maintained for most of her 90 years document the abuse, paranoia, self-loathing, doubt and devastating depression of Yelin’s true emotional state. These concurrent lenses reveal the profound struggles and suffering of a fascinating and highly gifted woman who transcended her ongoing deep-seated emotional agony to create a significant literary legacy.

The many threads of this multi-layered book have been woven together through the collaboration of Yelin’s daughter Gilah Yelin Hirsch, and Yelin’s first stories’ editor, Nancy Marrelli. – Véhicule Press


“Although the title Demonic to Divine alludes to extremities of feeling, and the text gives some inkling of the great darkness with which Shulamis struggled throughout her life, the overarching narrative in this volume, for both Shulamis and Gilah is very much about the transformative power of art and poesis – making living things with words and images. There is much pain in these stories, still more in the excerpts from Shulamis’ intimate diary and Gilah’s reflections – the pain of separation, rejection, injury and loss – but also moments of great joy and transcendence.” – Excerpt from Foreward by Laurence J. Kirmayer, MD


“Fraught with rage and admiration and bewilderment, a daughter reaches through the pages of time to heroically attempt to fathom her mother.” – Michele Zackheim, author of Last Train to Paris and Broken Colors


“The known presence and increased prevalence of major mood disorders in highly creative individuals is reinforced by this saga.” – Stuart Brown, MD, Founder and President, The National Institute for Play, and with Christopher Vaughn co-authored, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul


Excerpt from Montreal Review of Books: “To read Demonic to Divine is to bear witness to a process of remembrance and healing that refuses to either condemn or exonerate this particular “crazy” mother. The book prompts contemplation on the political implications of mental illness in a world where sexism and other social oppressions prevent individuals from flourishing to their full potential.” – Chai Cheng Thom, Reviewer


Demonic to Divine: The Double Life of Shulamis Yelin is available on paperback and e-book.


GILAH YELIN HIRSCH is a multidisciplinary artist and Professor of Art at California State University Dominguez Hills, Los Angeles.

NANCY MARRELLI is Archivist Emerita at Concordia University, Montreal. She is author of Stepping Out: The Golden Era of Montreal Nightclubs 1925-1955, and Burgundy Jazz: Little Burgundy and the Story of Montreal Jazz.

The Traveling Exhibition 2005-2009


…has been shown in Bratislava, Komarno, Kiev, Kracow and Budapest. The work highlighted in this exhibition ranges from the intense paintings of the late nineties, the Diamond Series, in which Hirsch visualizes her intricate internal injuries from a near-fatal car crash on a remote island in the Pacific; to the Patince Series, painted in Slovakia during a residency at the International Artists’ Symposium in 2004, in which she delves into nature’s more mystical imagery; to the Column Series, documenting another evolution of her latest fertile flow of imagery that grew out of concentrated sessions in her Venice studio in 2005.

Purchase on

View a PDF of the catalog