Split Tooth
Longlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller PrizeFrom the internationally acclaimed Inuit throat singer who has dazzled and enthralled the world with music it had never heard before, a fierce, tender, heartbreaking story unlike anything you've ever read.Fact can be as strange as fiction. It can also be as dark, as violent, as rapturous. In the end, there may be no difference between them.A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy, and friendship, and parents' love. She knows boredom, and listlessness, and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world, and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol, and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust. She sees the spirits that surround her, and the immense power that dwarfs all of us. When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all this.Veering back and forth between the grittiest features of a small arctic town, the electrifying proximity of the world of animals, and ravishing world of myth, Tanya Tagaq explores a world where the distinctions between good and evil, animal and human, victim and transgressor, real and imagined lose their meaning, but the guiding power of love remains.Haunting, brooding, exhilarating, and tender all at once, Tagaq moves effortlessly between fiction and memoir, myth and reality, poetry and prose, and conjures a world and a heroine readers will never forget.

Split Tooth Details

TitleSplit Tooth
Author
ReleaseSep 25th, 2018
PublisherViking
Rating
GenreFiction, Cultural, Canada

Split Tooth Review

  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    This book defies categorization, being unlike anything I have ever read. This is visceral storytelling. It has been long listed for the Giller Prize. The author, Tanya Tagaq, is an award winning Inuit throat singer. If you are unfamiliar with her strange, unworldly music, I urge you to visit YouTube. There are videos of her performing, and most interestingly a video where she describes and demonstrates how she makes the various sounds in her music. Here she paints word pictures ranging from the This book defies categorization, being unlike anything I have ever read. This is visceral storytelling. It has been long listed for the Giller Prize. The author, Tanya Tagaq, is an award winning Inuit throat singer. If you are unfamiliar with her strange, unworldly music, I urge you to visit YouTube. There are videos of her performing, and most interestingly a video where she describes and demonstrates how she makes the various sounds in her music. Here she paints word pictures ranging from the beautiful and rapturous to the disturbing and grotesque. The book contains snippets about a child and young woman growing up in the Far North. We learn something of their games, abuse, bullying, smoking discarded cigarette butts, liquor, drugs, solvent sniffing and love of animals. Mainly it contains poetry, visions, dreams, nightmares. There is homages to Arctic wildlife, nature including the cold and ice, the Northern Lights as a rhapsody. Good and Evil Spirits and dead ancestors permeate the spell cast by the writing. This book may not be for everyone but reading it was an unforgettable experience.
    more
  • Monika
    January 1, 1970
    This is unlike anything I have ever read. It defies language, convention, and any literary form. Genre-bending even feels like a weak description. This book comes out in September, and I highly recommend picking up a copy.
  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 rounded upTagac writes beautifully and her background as a song writer comes through in the lyricism of the prose. She lays out an emotionally intense and personal story of an inuk experience, filled with mythical stories, raw and real violence and tragic life events, interspersed with her throat singing. Although at times the loose structure leaves the reader lost, the threads connect beautifully at the end.
    more
  • Jessica Doyle
    January 1, 1970
    A beautifully and honestly written memoir of Tagaq's childhood through teen years growing up in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Split Tooth is a descriptive and at times uncomfortable read, but is a book any Canadian wanting to better understand the First Nations experience should pick up.
    more
  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    Exactly what one should expect from a piece of Tanya Tagaq's work: a biting and poetic transportation into a new dimension... into a world familiar to few, but accessible to all through Tagaq's harshly honest ode to a girl's life in the North.
  • Ron S
    January 1, 1970
    As with Ms Tagaq's live musical performances, this work is filled with unexpected twists and turns, sorrow and beauty, but the overwhelming impression is one of magic and awe.
  • Jackie
    January 1, 1970
    this is a vicious book. brutal, maternal, sweet, and so visceral. her writing is so special and creepy! in the best way possible!
  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    Moving and powerful.
  • Jesse
    January 1, 1970
    An intense, visionary, deeply poetic and deeply unsettling book with very little I could compare it to. Oddly the first thing that comes to mind is Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers—which, despite its excellence, has been very fairly pilloried for its colonial gaze of Mohawk Saint and sexual assault victim Kateri Tekakwitha. Like Beautiful Losers, this book presents a disorienting and perfectly whole world of its own, complete with chaos and darkness, blinding lights, a lot of extremely intense a An intense, visionary, deeply poetic and deeply unsettling book with very little I could compare it to. Oddly the first thing that comes to mind is Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers—which, despite its excellence, has been very fairly pilloried for its colonial gaze of Mohawk Saint and sexual assault victim Kateri Tekakwitha. Like Beautiful Losers, this book presents a disorienting and perfectly whole world of its own, complete with chaos and darkness, blinding lights, a lot of extremely intense and disturbing sex—and does so in language almost frustratingly precise and poetic (from someone with no formal training). Occasionally Tagaq lapses into almost sprung rhythm—her description of spring in the arctic early on in the book rivals Gerald Manley Hopkins’s ode to spring in England, and captures it in images every bit as resonant as Hopkins’s or more, and rhythm equally expansive.What sets this apart is that unlike Cohen’s book, this is the product of someone raised in an Inuit community in the North. Tagaq has all that experience to call upon, and when she summons it she borders on the invocation of demons. This is a stunning piece of writing, and while it bears some resemblance to recent groundbreaking Inuit art and film, southern readers will find it without much parallel. That is a gift to us all.
    more
  • Maggie Mugford
    January 1, 1970
    This book was really hard for me to read at first, because the author describes "tough subjects", difficult times. It was unlike anything else I have read. It was poetry, it was a novel; it was a journey. My father is Inuit and although I "lost" my status when I turned 19, because I "didn't have enough blood relatives/ancestry" I still identify as Inuit and I loved learning about the author's culture and history. I believe everyone from all ethnicities, religions, etc should read this, and I wil This book was really hard for me to read at first, because the author describes "tough subjects", difficult times. It was unlike anything else I have read. It was poetry, it was a novel; it was a journey. My father is Inuit and although I "lost" my status when I turned 19, because I "didn't have enough blood relatives/ancestry" I still identify as Inuit and I loved learning about the author's culture and history. I believe everyone from all ethnicities, religions, etc should read this, and I will be recommending this to everyone at work. #IndigoEmployee
    more
  • Rochelle
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a sucker for a novel written with rhythm & rhyme. When an author has put that level of thought into their construction & when it works, it is a beautiful thing. This novel is a beautiful thing.It is also horrible, terrible, confronting, magical, captivating, punishing and generous. It destroys and creates. And destroys & creates.Split Tooth may fall into the category of "auto fiction". It's part memoir, part fiction & Tagaq isn't telling which is which.I'm not sure what to re I'm a sucker for a novel written with rhythm & rhyme. When an author has put that level of thought into their construction & when it works, it is a beautiful thing. This novel is a beautiful thing.It is also horrible, terrible, confronting, magical, captivating, punishing and generous. It destroys and creates. And destroys & creates.Split Tooth may fall into the category of "auto fiction". It's part memoir, part fiction & Tagaq isn't telling which is which.I'm not sure what to reveal about the content otherwise. Do readers want to know that they will be confronted with terrible child abuse? With terrifying childhood exploits? It is folkloric but there are no fairytales here. I loved the revenge fantasy (can I hope this part is real? I want to believe it is real). I loved the character as Earth, despoiled & birthing. All things.This audio edition includes vocal performances by Tanya Tagaq. She also narrates the audio & her artistic vocal performance is used with full effect. I can't help thinking that anyone reading the print edition is missing out.
    more
  • Amanda Leclair
    January 1, 1970
    I was able to get a preview copy of this book because of a friend who works at a book store. Some things I can definitely say-This book it worth reading.This book is not a easy read, emotionally or just in the way that some books follow such a conventional method of narrative you can just let the words wash over you. This book requires you to slow down and really ponder the stories, poems and the order they are coming to you in. It requires thought. Having the point of view of this phenomenal wo I was able to get a preview copy of this book because of a friend who works at a book store. Some things I can definitely say-This book it worth reading.This book is not a easy read, emotionally or just in the way that some books follow such a conventional method of narrative you can just let the words wash over you. This book requires you to slow down and really ponder the stories, poems and the order they are coming to you in. It requires thought. Having the point of view of this phenomenal woman, so raw and sometimes unsettling is something we should savour. There are both glimpses and long gazes into the beauty and the brutal nature of living in Canada's north, almost sung to you in the authors poetic prose. The descriptions of humans connections to the earth and sea are moving and strong. My highlights, however, were descriptions of everyday events, like pre teens searching for used cigarettes on the ground to smoke. This glimpses make you feel like you have really learned something about the authors experiences. This book will not leave you with a sense of completion like a gift wrapped up just right. But it will leave you thinking and wondering, and going back to re-read sections to try to decipher their meaning. All and all, I say that this book is something that should be read by many, but only when they are in a healthy head space to take some difficult topics(sexual abuse, violence, drug use in youth and adults, violence against children, descriptions of sexuality that may leave some feeling unsettled) in stride.
    more
  • Siobhan
    January 1, 1970
    Giving it five stars because it is so wholly original and engrossing, not because I necessarily understood what I just read! This book is coming from a place that is quite foreign to me--a harsh, unforgiving landscape; a life of poverty and violence; and an intimacy with spiritual and natural worlds that kind of eludes me. I *think* it is likely important as a work of so-called cli-fi, or climate change fiction; as well as important for its rendering (and challenging) of sexual trauma. I *think* Giving it five stars because it is so wholly original and engrossing, not because I necessarily understood what I just read! This book is coming from a place that is quite foreign to me--a harsh, unforgiving landscape; a life of poverty and violence; and an intimacy with spiritual and natural worlds that kind of eludes me. I *think* it is likely important as a work of so-called cli-fi, or climate change fiction; as well as important for its rendering (and challenging) of sexual trauma. I *think* the narrator gets impregnated by the Northern Lights, and then has to kill her own babies when they turn on her and others. I suspect this story is grounded in some wild mix of Inuk traditional stories and Tagaq's own fervid, fevered imagination. Characters are much larger than life, and Nature is indifferent--if this is not exactly post-human fiction it is a book that is keenly aware that humans are coming to their end. Can't say it is uplifting or reassuring, but it is definitely intriguing it.
    more
  • Leah Grantham
    January 1, 1970
    Truth be told, I don't care for about half of the Indigenous fiction or poetry that gets taken up by CanLit. It's often overly cloying, or tragedy porn, or written with a white audience in mind, or sometimes it's just not my cup of tea. Split Tooth though, is none of these. Split Tooth is a brutal, unflinching, magical, beautiful, grounded beauty of a book. It belongs on the shelves of anyone who likes Chrystos or Eden Robinson or other authors who know how to (paraphrasing the book here) put th Truth be told, I don't care for about half of the Indigenous fiction or poetry that gets taken up by CanLit. It's often overly cloying, or tragedy porn, or written with a white audience in mind, or sometimes it's just not my cup of tea. Split Tooth though, is none of these. Split Tooth is a brutal, unflinching, magical, beautiful, grounded beauty of a book. It belongs on the shelves of anyone who likes Chrystos or Eden Robinson or other authors who know how to (paraphrasing the book here) put their fingers in the membrane between the bone and fur. It's not an easy read. It cracks open your clavicle and digs right at your heart. But in the process old wounds that never fully healed get a new chance at honest renewal. I seriously doubt this will end up being hyped or embraced by the CanLit establishment, but it's better than that. It stands on its own. It's a masterpiece.
    more
  • Rob Hermanowski
    January 1, 1970
    This is a stunningly original work by the brilliant Inuit throat-singer Tanya Tagaq (who I was introduced to by my good friend Danielle Buie). I listened to the audiobook edition, which is read by the author, and different from the written version in that Tagaq alternates each of the numerous chapters with short performances of her singing. The overall experience is extremely intense - this book has clear autobiographical elements, but also takes takes forays into First Nation mythology and spir This is a stunningly original work by the brilliant Inuit throat-singer Tanya Tagaq (who I was introduced to by my good friend Danielle Buie). I listened to the audiobook edition, which is read by the author, and different from the written version in that Tagaq alternates each of the numerous chapters with short performances of her singing. The overall experience is extremely intense - this book has clear autobiographical elements, but also takes takes forays into First Nation mythology and spiritualism. Tagaq's voice, alternately fragile and assured, is a marvel, and the material is deeply primal and moving. This is very unconventional storytelling, and I am grateful for having experienced it.
    more
  • Dale
    January 1, 1970
    Some sloppy editing in the opening chapters distract from the slow building story set in a northern community where drugs and alcohol are the only escape from a life that is impoverished and brutal. But as the story goes on, that awkward opening seems almost intentional and is quickly forgotten as the story moves from prosaic to transcendent. After the narrator connects with nature and the spirits of her ancestors, the novel takes readers into territory where few people below the 60th parallel h Some sloppy editing in the opening chapters distract from the slow building story set in a northern community where drugs and alcohol are the only escape from a life that is impoverished and brutal. But as the story goes on, that awkward opening seems almost intentional and is quickly forgotten as the story moves from prosaic to transcendent. After the narrator connects with nature and the spirits of her ancestors, the novel takes readers into territory where few people below the 60th parallel have ever gone before, with a mind blowing adaptation of Inuk legend and myth for the 21st century. Tagaq's writing is hypnotic, spare, and poetic. The story itself is primal and breathtaking.
    more
  • Amanda Reaume
    January 1, 1970
    I started reading this book on the treadmill and it made me do 20 minutes extra cardio than I intended. This book is such a fascinating mix of prose, poetry, dreams and illustrations. It is beautifully written and also dense with ideas and symbols. I have never read anything like it and I absolutely loved it. So much to chew on, think about and tease out.
    more
  • Thalarctos
    January 1, 1970
    Like reading a prose poem about a dream. Delicious.
  • Trisha Barua
    January 1, 1970
    IDEK how to rate this book but I think I liked it ? A lot?
  • Terry
    January 1, 1970
    out of this world
  • Onceinabluemoon
    January 1, 1970
    So intense, so uncomfortable, stunning. Had the audio and kindle, you need both. Watched videos on throat singing, it's all a strange new world for me...
  • Carry
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing. I would highly recommend the audiobook as it is read by the author.Trigger warning needed for sexual assault.
  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    Loved the weaving in and out of memoir, myth, Inuit spiritualism, and poetry. The descriptions of the tundra made me long for the wild of the North. Captivating story.
  • Natalie Breton
    January 1, 1970
    Save your time and money! I have no idea why this book has a high rating. It’s a jumble of nonsense wrapped up in foul language and negativity. Yuck!
Write a review