Split Tooth
From 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
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 25th, 2018
PublisherViking
Rating
GenreFiction, Poetry, Cultural, Canada

Split Tooth Review

  • Meike
    January 1, 1970
    While listening to this audiobook, I was reminded of Björk, and then I found out that Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq has actually worked with her on Medúlla and the Vespertine World Tour. That said, you can obviously expect something unconventional and genre-defying when picking up Tagaq's debut as a writer - and while "Split Tooth" was longlisted for the Giller Prize which is awarded to Canadian novels or short story collections, you could also perceive this book as a fictionalized memoir or as While listening to this audiobook, I was reminded of Björk, and then I found out that Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq has actually worked with her on Medúlla and the Vespertine World Tour. That said, you can obviously expect something unconventional and genre-defying when picking up Tagaq's debut as a writer - and while "Split Tooth" was longlisted for the Giller Prize which is awarded to Canadian novels or short story collections, you could also perceive this book as a fictionalized memoir or as a collage of different poetic text forms. In mesmerizing, lyrical and sometimes disturbing vignettes, the author takes the perspective of a young indigenous girl who grows up in Nunavat in the 1970s (as Tagaq did). The book talks about violence, abuse, alcoholism, drugs, family, and everyday life in the icy North of Canda, but these more typical themes for a coming-of-age story are merged with a shamanic awakening the girl experiences with the onset of puberty: Nature, myths and the spirit world become part of her, and she becomes part of them. Tagaq finds a myriad of poetic ways to express the physical and spiritual world that entails the girl and her surroundings. It's interesting to note that she compiled parts of the book out of her dream journals and notebooks of observations she made. Ultimately, Tagaq's goal is also political: This book is a representation of indigenous women, and it is written in the most honest, lyrical and beautiful way. In case you're curious about Tagaq's award-winning music, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNYTA...
    more
  • ❤️
    January 1, 1970
    Tanya Tagaq is just such a goddamn gem. And I don't know what to even say about this book of hers.I feel like I didn't "understand" half of this book, because so much of it is written in lyrical poetry and I've never been one to digest poetry well. But I also feel like my mind just sucked everything right up and I somehow, naturally, just get it.I feel like I didn't enjoy reading this in the usual sense, but at the same time I'm grateful for having done so.This book is powerful. It's strange. It Tanya Tagaq is just such a goddamn gem. And I don't know what to even say about this book of hers.I feel like I didn't "understand" half of this book, because so much of it is written in lyrical poetry and I've never been one to digest poetry well. But I also feel like my mind just sucked everything right up and I somehow, naturally, just get it.I feel like I didn't enjoy reading this in the usual sense, but at the same time I'm grateful for having done so.This book is powerful. It's strange. It's difficult. It's magical. It's sad and beautiful and jarring. It's a book I think as many people as possible should read.
    more
  • 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
  • Dan
    January 1, 1970
    In Split Tooth, Tanya Tagaq blasts through boundaries between the natural and the supernatural, reality and fantasy, the present and the past, and humans and other animals. Split Tooth alternates between prose and poetry, and Tagaq’s language is spare and lovely. Tagaq tells a liminal yet linear story of a teen Inuk girl in a small village in far north Nunavut, where both adults and teens seek escape in alcohol and substance abuse: ”It’s a Bring Your Own Solvents party and I want to let the colo In Split Tooth, Tanya Tagaq blasts through boundaries between the natural and the supernatural, reality and fantasy, the present and the past, and humans and other animals. Split Tooth alternates between prose and poetry, and Tagaq’s language is spare and lovely. Tagaq tells a liminal yet linear story of a teen Inuk girl in a small village in far north Nunavut, where both adults and teens seek escape in alcohol and substance abuse: ”It’s a Bring Your Own Solvents party and I want to let the colours shine. We take turns sharing the bags, not caring if we drool into them. My favourite is the rubber cement and it makes me sad when I have to give it away. Then I stop caring which one I have and there is only the High>” But the life’s rigors and brutality are sometimes made more bearable by family and closeness: ”A black eye on Saturday Maybe six. Maybe she deserved it. Turn your head the other way if the shoplifter is too thin. Heartfelt greetings. Whispered secrets. We are the walls. We shuffle down the aisles and take stock of the community. / We congregate. I make out with the butcher in the freezer. I’m growing breasts and I’m proud of them. The town is small but it is warm. Someone is found frozen by Cape Cockburn. Someone committed suicide. Someone is pregnant.” Tanya Tagaq’s Split Tooth lies far outside my literary experience. It’s arresting, fascinating, and deeply disturbing: ”Beat me. I deserve it. Blacken my eyes so they reflect what I see from the inside. Break my ribs. Kick me. / Kill me. End this. I am not brave enough to do it myself. All I have is numb. . . / Cleanse me. Wash the blood off. I am still working. I survive still. I am stronger now. / Worship me. I am boundless. I stood up. I am worthy. / Start again.” 4 stars
    more
  • Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
    January 1, 1970
    Did 90% of this on audio and there was no possible way I could bring myself to endure the remainder. Tagaq’s breathy, incantatory audio narration works so powerfully for the incantational pieces here and there, and the throat singing was to die for, but she never ever varies that tone and it drove me up the effing wall listening to the most prosaic details of these stories told to me as if they were shamanic prayers. I am done.
    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.
  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    In 2001, I first saw Inuit art – I mean real and in person. And, I fell in love with it. It was telling a story, even though I might not know what that story was, but it was still telling a story. So, I started to read up on the culture. I developed a taste for Inuit throat singing. Eventually, I heard about Tanya Tagaq, when she won the Polaris award. I got the album. “Uja” is one my all-time favorite pieces of music. When I found out that Tagaq had a book coming out, I had to pre order it. Sp In 2001, I first saw Inuit art – I mean real and in person. And, I fell in love with it. It was telling a story, even though I might not know what that story was, but it was still telling a story. So, I started to read up on the culture. I developed a taste for Inuit throat singing. Eventually, I heard about Tanya Tagaq, when she won the Polaris award. I got the album. “Uja” is one my all-time favorite pieces of music. When I found out that Tagaq had a book coming out, I had to pre order it. Spilt Tooth is one of those fictional books that may, most likely, somewhat contains some non-fiction details. It chronicles the life of a young Inuit girl as she grows to adulthood. She lives in Nunavat. Eventually she becomes pregnant. The novel is a thing of beauty. A combination of belief, myth, storytelling, heartbreak, nature, and poetry. There are so many beautiful images in this book – the stealing of a boy’s pants, the taking of an animal home, the foxes, the Northern Lights. But there is harshness too because it is the North and life can be harsh. There is fear. And the ending, oh the ending.
    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
  • Krista
    January 1, 1970
    Ice in lungIce in WindLife unsungMilk DeathSplit toothSorrow marrowWhispered truth On her website, one can see the awesome artistic range that Tanya Tagaq displays – from “Punk Inuit Throat Singer” to painter – and in a further expression of her art, she has now released her fiction debut, Split Tooth. Self-taught at writing as she was at singing, this book is apparently based on journals that Tagaq kept over the years; journals in which she would write poems, ideas, memories, and short fiction Ice in lungIce in WindLife unsungMilk DeathSplit toothSorrow marrowWhispered truth On her website, one can see the awesome artistic range that Tanya Tagaq displays – from “Punk Inuit Throat Singer” to painter – and in a further expression of her art, she has now released her fiction debut, Split Tooth. Self-taught at writing as she was at singing, this book is apparently based on journals that Tagaq kept over the years; journals in which she would write poems, ideas, memories, and short fictions. Put together in a loose narrative that I had to keep reminding myself wasn't a straight memoir, Tagaq paints a vivid picture of growing up in Nunavut in the 70's: We break into abandoned buildings just to keep warm. We climb the oil tanks and run around the tops of them, daring ourselves to jump off (we never do). We challenge the power plant to a yelling match. We collect our friends in gangs and each one of us tells our parents we are sleeping over at someone else's house. We hold 100 metre races and play spin the bottle. We steal hash and beer and potato chips. We talk on the phone. We taunt drunks on the street, knowing they will never remember who bruised their egos when they have killed their own dignity already. In between snippets of the continuing narrative, there are frequent semi-mystical/philosophical musings that may have been better off left in the journals: Spirit is already divine. We must feed Divinity with devout intent and Spirit grows stronger, cleansing and returning to reality upon Death. What happens before birth and resumes after death – this is more real than the brief spark of life. Our lives just carry the physical burden of carrying energy forward. We put on suits of meat as training, as a challenge. We all know this is temporary. And often, a short poem would appear that would perfectly and impactfully capture some details from the narrative: The Human Sternum is capable of so many thingsProtector of DiaphragmKiller and milk feeder of hopeMarriage of marrow and cartilageHeavingImprisoning the heartKeeps it aliveCage for Blood and breathThe Human Sternum is used for so many thingsClavicles like handlebarsRibs like stairsThe sternum is the shieldEven when impairedEven when it smothers a little girl's faceAs the bedsprings squeak The book also includes several line drawings by Jaime Hernandez, and as the girl in the story enters puberty, she has an encounter with the natural world that begins a storyline that sounds like it could have been an age-old myth. I liked this scrapbooky feel: it may not give the reading experience of a traditional Western novel, but who says that an Inuit artist needs to follow anyone else's rules for how to tell a story? There is both joy and pain in this story, and throughout, Tagaq writes of her community with warmth and love; my personal tastes may have appreciated some different editorial choices, but I am impressed by the art that Tagaq has created here.
    more
  • Jacob Kolody
    January 1, 1970
    This novel was filled to the brim with beautiful imagery and poetic prose, but in trying to present everything as beautifully as Tanya Tagaq did, all sense of a narrative was lost. When I finally closed this book, I realized I had been transfixed by these 180 pages and ended up not understanding a single thing that happened. This novel was magical in the way a magician plucking a rose out of thin air is. The rose is exciting and beautiful but once the trick is done and you’re left holding the fl This novel was filled to the brim with beautiful imagery and poetic prose, but in trying to present everything as beautifully as Tanya Tagaq did, all sense of a narrative was lost. When I finally closed this book, I realized I had been transfixed by these 180 pages and ended up not understanding a single thing that happened. This novel was magical in the way a magician plucking a rose out of thin air is. The rose is exciting and beautiful but once the trick is done and you’re left holding the flower, all that’s left is confusion. “Split Tooth” was the thorniest of roses.
    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.
  • Nilton Teixeira
    January 1, 1970
    What an intriguing, interesting and heartbreaking book. This book stand on its own. The writing is brilliant. I have never read anything like it. It defies genre. Is this a journal? A memoir? Poetry? Fantasy? Fiction, non-fiction. It is for sure a drama. Sexual abuse, drugs, alcohol. But there is also something magical, a transportation to a new dimension. I’m sure that this book will not please everyone but I loved it and I would like to try the audiobook (never my choice) narrated by the autho What an intriguing, interesting and heartbreaking book. This book stand on its own. The writing is brilliant. I have never read anything like it. It defies genre. Is this a journal? A memoir? Poetry? Fantasy? Fiction, non-fiction. It is for sure a drama. Sexual abuse, drugs, alcohol. But there is also something magical, a transportation to a new dimension. I’m sure that this book will not please everyone but I loved it and I would like to try the audiobook (never my choice) narrated by the author, as I heard is very impressive (I have ordered a copy from the public library and it seems that my waiting period is about 16 weeks).
    more
  • Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
    January 1, 1970
    Somewhere between The White Book and Freshwater, a way of looking at birth and death and coming of age through the natural world and through myth. Hard to rate. Some moments of beauty (more than I got out of The White Book) but not much of a coherent story (unlike Freshwater) but a good companion read to both.
    more
  • Maddie C.
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful, haunting, unnerving, I did not devour Split Tooth, Split Tooth devour me.With its beautiful language and deep meaning, it defies categorization and blends seamlessly aspects of poetry, memoir and literary fiction. Reading it felt like a fever dream, like an hallucination with shots of sharpened clarity; it is bitter and cold like the northic snow but also incredibly tender and soft. I'm sure it will grow on me more and more as time passes. Tanya Tagaq opened up my soul.I recommend rea Beautiful, haunting, unnerving, I did not devour Split Tooth, Split Tooth devour me.With its beautiful language and deep meaning, it defies categorization and blends seamlessly aspects of poetry, memoir and literary fiction. Reading it felt like a fever dream, like an hallucination with shots of sharpened clarity; it is bitter and cold like the northic snow but also incredibly tender and soft. I'm sure it will grow on me more and more as time passes. Tanya Tagaq opened up my soul.I recommend reading this on audiobook.
    more
  • 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
  • Ilana
    January 1, 1970
    A Terrible Beauty(Another reviewer mentioned this book should contain a trigger warning for sexual abuse. I concur.) Should I put down my initial reactions to this book now I've just finished listening to it? Or should I take time to digest it a little so I can be sure not to say anything off colour? Most people seem to agree this book is brilliant. I suppose it is. It's raw. It's brutal. It speaks of the natural world in a beautiful way. It also speaks of the natural world as seen from the poin A Terrible Beauty(Another reviewer mentioned this book should contain a trigger warning for sexual abuse. I concur.) Should I put down my initial reactions to this book now I've just finished listening to it? Or should I take time to digest it a little so I can be sure not to say anything off colour? Most people seem to agree this book is brilliant. I suppose it is. It's raw. It's brutal. It speaks of the natural world in a beautiful way. It also speaks of the natural world as seen from the point of view of a carnivore and an active predator and who likes to eat flesh still living or raw or as close to pulsing life as possible to get maximum energy from it. It speaks of beauty and horror combined, harshly and dispassionately. We living in the "southern" parts of Canada can't begin to imagine the kinds of harsh and frigid cold the Inuit must face as part of their daily existence, the punishing quality of it. Kids are only let off school in the Great North when the weather hits minus 50 degrees Celsius or less (that's -58 Fahrenheit). Sexual abuse is so common that Tagaq's character speaks of being jealous when she sees her teacher touching other girls's private parts in the same way, because, one is led to understand, this is part of a young girl's "normal" sexual development in those parts. Many passages made me want to... I don't know... vomit? cry? lay down on the sidewalk trembling and foaming at the mouth? All told with this oh so gentle voice, all part of everyday life. This is a place where people can't spare empathy for each other, much less for their animals. When there's not enough food for their dogs, they must be put down. When the fox population become too numerous, they starve and attack the children, so they must be exterminated, and Tagaq describes taking satisfaction from the popping sounds as they hit their targets while shooting at them, as part of a father/daughter bonding experience. There is no mystery about sex and certainly no such thing as modesty about it. Not in a world where parents and uncles and family friends regularly get blind drunk and children get high with whatever substance they can get their hands on, and I suppose one is naturally drawn to warm places. But Tagaq recounts all this with a clear, gentle, girlish... I want to say pure voice, and in between snatches of story/poetry there is the throat singing she is famous for, which is sometimes sublime and more often disconcerting and frankly disturbing, much like this book as a whole. That being said, if there ever was a book one should experience as an audiobook for the full effect, then this would be it. Inextricably, melding the sordid with the sublime, there is the world of spirit and mythology. Ancient stories of humans transforming into sea creatures, who then take their vengeance on men for wrongs done to them. Representing man's endless struggle with cold and starvation and the unforgiving sea. There are astral voyages... out of body experiences she recounts as simply as if she were describing going to the store to buy a pint of milk; she lets her spirit roam to escape the horror of the violently drunk adults in the room, who are a regular feature of every young person's life. The Northern Lights are ever-present, and eventually, they impregnate her in a kind of psychedelic journey which yields actual babies, though whether they are fully human is never fully clear. She tells all these stories in the first person, as if this has all been part of her personal experience, but you eventually figure out that she has weaved together the story of her people, perhaps of her generation. It is part memoir, part myth, part history, part fantasy, part fiction and part non-fiction too. I'm not a prude, I'm certainly not religious and I've never been a Christian, but this book made me feel like a Puritan at times. Tagaq managed to shock me with the raw sexuality and sheer savagery she described. This book took on a nightmarish quality for me. The kind of nightmares which both seduce and repel you. You desperately want to wake up for them to stop, but then again you want to follow those strange creatures around that structure to see where they might take you, though your heart is pounding and you're absolutely certain you're about to die because you know they're leading you to something truly horrific and from which you won't possibly be able to escape. Tagaq's mind, the culture she was describing seemed like it was from a completely different universe, and perhaps the throat singing made it seem more so, certainly it made the whole thing take on a different dimension. I thought I knew something about the Great North and its people before, had some kind of notion at least, but no. And now, here is an opportunity to hear a creative, smart, multi-talented, deep-thinking woman, one with a gentle and kind voice no less, and she terrified me with the raw brutality of her poetry. I suppose that's what she set out to do. Shake us Southerners out of our complacency and our comfort zone. She managed that extremely well. Never did I feel so much like the "other". Or so damn white. And have to wonder: is that really such a bad thing? And why must I be apologizing? And must I?. All questions which are big taboos if one is a liberal and loves all humanity equally. But when confronted with so much otherness, can one really not ask oneself those questions? I will not say I loved this book. I did not. Nor did I like it. The same way I do not love the nightmares that visit me every night. My nightmares are filled with symbolism and strange creatures and memories that are sometimes my own and sometimes not too. But nightmares, much like Tanya Tagaq, are trying to convey important messages to us, and like it or not, we must listen. Some of us might be enchanted by what she has to say, some of us will not be. All the same, I'm glad I listened to this book. It felt like an important thing to do, and it certainly had a terrible beauty. I'm just thankful my nightmares can't possibly be worse than they are already, or this book would have proved traumatic in a truly lasting way.
    more
  • David
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come.
  • 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.
  • Emmkay
    January 1, 1970
    As visceral and odd as I would expect from having listened to the music of Tanya Tagaq, an Inuk throat singer, who does experimental and interesting stuff. This novel, written in the first-person with a somewhat flat tone, interspersed with poems, tells the story of a young Inuk girl growing up in the 70s in a small community in Nunavut. I liked how economically Tagaq was able to convey Northern life and the effects of colonialism and abuse, from children taking advantage of 24-hour sunlight aro As visceral and odd as I would expect from having listened to the music of Tanya Tagaq, an Inuk throat singer, who does experimental and interesting stuff. This novel, written in the first-person with a somewhat flat tone, interspersed with poems, tells the story of a young Inuk girl growing up in the 70s in a small community in Nunavut. I liked how economically Tagaq was able to convey Northern life and the effects of colonialism and abuse, from children taking advantage of 24-hour sunlight around the solstice, to their huffing for a cheap high. I found that had more impact on me than the broader observations about life and the universe. The tide of what I guess you'd call magical realism rises throughout, as the narrator recounts experiences, sometimes sexual, with the animals of the Arctic, the Nothern Lights, the ice, and the sea. Weird and powerful.
    more
  • chantel nouseforaname
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful. Like insanely so. I don't even know what to say..it reads like part coming-of-age tale, part-poetic masterpiece, part fantastical, stream of consciousness sort-of purge. Her writing is super sharp; much like her music. Razor sharp and kind of awe-inducing. Tagaq is coming for your neck with this book. There was some light playful elements and memories highlighting a life of childhood squabbles and things experienced much too young.. and there are horrorific elements highlighting the u Beautiful. Like insanely so. I don't even know what to say..it reads like part coming-of-age tale, part-poetic masterpiece, part fantastical, stream of consciousness sort-of purge. Her writing is super sharp; much like her music. Razor sharp and kind of awe-inducing. Tagaq is coming for your neck with this book. There was some light playful elements and memories highlighting a life of childhood squabbles and things experienced much too young.. and there are horrorific elements highlighting the unspeakable in words that are cutting but meant to be loudly heard and they are. The culmination stayed with me after the last page was swiped. This book lacerated me.
    more
  • Katy
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t feel equipped to review this book. It is visceral, stunning, haunting, so much I can’t explain but you should read it for yourself. I’m not fully convinced I did read it, it feels as though the Northern Lights may have come down from the sky to fill my being and leave me with the memories of the book instead, floating loosely beside me like a confused yet meaningful reminder of a dream I once had that I couldn’t quite hold on to. Tanya Tagaq is a visionary. I loved the book but it sicken I don’t feel equipped to review this book. It is visceral, stunning, haunting, so much I can’t explain but you should read it for yourself. I’m not fully convinced I did read it, it feels as though the Northern Lights may have come down from the sky to fill my being and leave me with the memories of the book instead, floating loosely beside me like a confused yet meaningful reminder of a dream I once had that I couldn’t quite hold on to. Tanya Tagaq is a visionary. I loved the book but it sickened me as well. Split Tooth pulls no punches.
    more
  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    WOW! How did this book not make the Giller short list (along with Our Homesick Songs). I can think of a few short-listers that are much weaker. Listen to this as an audiobook, read by the author, and interspersed with her throat singing. Absolutely stunning, lyrical, poetic, mythical, and raw story-telling.
    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
  • Liz Mc2
    January 1, 1970
    This book is difficult to categorize (I read a profile of Tagaq that called it “mythobiography,” which seems apt—although it’s fiction, it’s grounded in Tagaq’s own experience of growing up in the North). There are realistic passages, poems, dream sequences. If you choose the audiobook read by the author, as I did, you will hear her throat-singing as well, sometimes ethereal, sometimes hoarse, grunting. It’s a music that’s very embodied, where you are conscious of the singer’s breath moving, and This book is difficult to categorize (I read a profile of Tagaq that called it “mythobiography,” which seems apt—although it’s fiction, it’s grounded in Tagaq’s own experience of growing up in the North). There are realistic passages, poems, dream sequences. If you choose the audiobook read by the author, as I did, you will hear her throat-singing as well, sometimes ethereal, sometimes hoarse, grunting. It’s a music that’s very embodied, where you are conscious of the singer’s breath moving, and that suits the book, full of reminders of embodiment even in the passages where the narrator leaves her body and enters the spirit world.I was most engaged by the earlier, more realistic sections, which capture so much about childhood: the cruel things done to and by children (there are depictions of sexual abuse), the thrill of adventure, daring and risk, the joys and pains of friendship. In the long final dream sequence/vision where the narrator is impregnated by the northern lights, I was less impressed. This is partly a matter of my taste for realism, definitely, and also it felt sometimes heavy-handed in its symbolism. Not controlled.But the book also made me question my own aesthetic judgements. (What’s so great about control, anyway?) I wonder to what extent Tagaq is challenging us to decolonize those judgements. The end made me think of Margaret Atwood’s magic baby of CanLit from Survival. Is Split Tooth decolonizing that trope? (Deliberately or not, I think so). The book is dedicated to missing and murdered indigenous women, and the epigraph is from Kierkegaard, about the poet as someone who when he cries in agony, the sounds come out so beautiful that people want him to suffer more so they can enjoy his pain. This book asks us to bear witness, to hear the pain of the narrator and her community. Its aim is to heal, but healing is not easy. Listening is a first step. It’s poetic and political. At the beginning I wondered how on earth this book did not make the Giller shortlist. Later, I thought I understood. I’m not sure it reflects well on us, the settlers, the givers of prizes.
    more
  • Magdelanye
    January 1, 1970
    The Land has no hierarchy. The Land has no manners; you only obey and enjoy what is afforded you by her greatness. Only logic and great care ensure your survival....We obey or we succumb. p118Interspersed with indigenous wisdom and stories of growing up in the far north is a shamanic tale that bursts out of its seams and colonizes the last part of the book. Cunningly illustrated with line drawings by Jaime Hernandez and sprinkled with poetry and song, this is a book as challenging as the frozen The Land has no hierarchy. The Land has no manners; you only obey and enjoy what is afforded you by her greatness. Only logic and great care ensure your survival....We obey or we succumb. p118Interspersed with indigenous wisdom and stories of growing up in the far north is a shamanic tale that bursts out of its seams and colonizes the last part of the book. Cunningly illustrated with line drawings by Jaime Hernandez and sprinkled with poetry and song, this is a book as challenging as the frozen landscape, the long days and long nights, retaining the awesome mystery of the northern lights.Humans have misunderstood time. Time is not rushing by. Time does not obey the clock....Time is alive. ...Time mates with gravity to put you back into the earth. You do not travel through time; time travels through you. Time is your conductor; time is your demise. p110Dreams follow you into the day to force action....We never like to listen to ourselves, even when we know we have to. We plod on ignoring what we must be, what we are meant to be. We are taught to fear our instincts. We must hunt down and fall in love with the Fear, therefore defeating our self doubt every day. This is followed by joy. p51
    more
  • Phillip Edwards
    January 1, 1970
    'Tears freeze' Tanya Tagaq is an Inuit throat singer, musician and composer, whose work has been featured on BBC Radio 3's Late Junction.Her debut novel is the memoir of an Inuit girl growing up in Nunavut in the late 1970's. "Innuinakrun class. I hate this class. The teacher's dry, brown, papery hands repulse me. His nails have weird white lines underneath them. He is too thin and hunches as if he is about to be kicked. He moves like a nervous rat. He wears yellow-tinted aviator glasses. He sm 'Tears freeze' Tanya Tagaq is an Inuit throat singer, musician and composer, whose work has been featured on BBC Radio 3's Late Junction.Her debut novel is the memoir of an Inuit girl growing up in Nunavut in the late 1970's. "Innuinakrun class. I hate this class. The teacher's dry, brown, papery hands repulse me. His nails have weird white lines underneath them. He is too thin and hunches as if he is about to be kicked. He moves like a nervous rat. He wears yellow-tinted aviator glasses. He smells of victimhood and insecurity."Split Tooth features some of the most evocative and compelling writing I have read in a long time. Abuse, poetry, and the coldness of nature swirl around its arctic pages."The Ocean Ice can hold so much. Ice prevents decay; it can slow your burden. It can stop it completely by filling your lungs.Motionless. I am lying on the ice for an unknown amount of time because Time went for a walk. Ice in lung, fear in spleen, and river of blood flowing from my womb. Can the water be cognizant of my own fleshly currents through the ten feet of ocean ice? Can my blood join the ocean currents in ritual? Moon approves. He brings both blood and light upon those long winter nights. Wind on face, rhythm in chaos, and consolation in constellations."The desire to re-read this book kicked in before I was a third of the way through. Every page is beautiful. I am surprised it wasn't on the shortlist for The Goldsmith's Prize, but its time will come. "We will harvest the truth. We will collect the rent. This tapestry is being rewoven."
    more
  • Jillypenny
    January 1, 1970
    A. Mind blown! At times prose, at times storytelling. This novel is lyrical, mythological, and beautiful. Includes the harsh realities of growing up indigenous (trigger warning!), a love of nature, and what it means to be from the far, far north. I highly recommend the audiobook version for two reasons : 1. Read by the author, which I always love2. The chapters are interspersed with her performing little bits of her throat-singing. Indeed, she sings one of the poems. Wonderful!
    more
  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    This is going to seem like a weird thing to say, but this book feels like coming home. These experiences aren't my exact experiences, of course, but I feel like so much of the imagery is woven into my family history that I can relate. This book runs the gamut of human emotion and you'll laugh, cry, smile and rage all through its pages. But I still hope you'll read it.
    more
  • 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!
  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    I hardly know what to say about this book. It was a stretch for me, yet it displays many of the elements I enjoy--a dreamy quality to the prose; coming of age story that I found a bit disjointed at first and then, well, fantastic, mythological; a powerful story of a young woman. I don't know what it's like in print, but do yourself a favor and listen. It's just amazing. The author is an acclaimed throat singer, and if you don't listen, you miss that unusual extra. The author reads the story and I hardly know what to say about this book. It was a stretch for me, yet it displays many of the elements I enjoy--a dreamy quality to the prose; coming of age story that I found a bit disjointed at first and then, well, fantastic, mythological; a powerful story of a young woman. I don't know what it's like in print, but do yourself a favor and listen. It's just amazing. The author is an acclaimed throat singer, and if you don't listen, you miss that unusual extra. The author reads the story and her voice gives it a dreamy quality; she has a haunting, hypnotic voice and narrative style. Some of the story is about the kinds of mischief teens get into but at about 3/4 through, it turns mystical. Gritty, disturbing, passionate, bittersweet, unsettling. Pretty amazing.
    more
Write a review