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Split Tooth

Written by: Tanya Tagaq
Narrated by: Tanya Tagaq
Length: 5 hrs and 31 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (119 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 heard.

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 listeners will never forget.

©2018 Tanya Tagaq (P)2018 Viking

What the critics say

“Tagaq’s surreal meld of poetry and prose transmutes the Arctic’s boundless beauty, intensity, and desolation into a wrenching contemporary mythology.” (The New Yorker)

“Though the protagonist’s coming-of-age story, generously and lovingly documented by Tagaq, is the anchor, Split Tooth is not a book that can be fully absorbed in one sitting. It’s possible to sink deeper and deeper into the narrative with each successive reading. Like a smirking teenager, Split Tooth blithely gives typical literary expectations the finger, daring us to see and experience narrative as chaotic, emotional, and deeply instinctive. And it succeeds.” (Quill and Quire)

“Tanya’s book is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever read. It’s deeply profound, emotional and personal, and furthers her artistic experimentation and genius into a new realm. I love her even more after reading it, and I’m once again awed by her talent.” (Jesse Wente, CBC Broadcaster)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

breathtaking

I dont think I have the words the describe how amazing this book is. the imagery created with her words genuinely created a picture in my mind. her story telling is absolutely breathtaking. the purchase on audible was made even more stunning as every chapter is ended with a bit of the authors throat singing. this is pure magic and left me wanting more

2 people found this helpful

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Beautiful, haunting and chilling. It's visceral.

Originally I was going to purchase the book to read but when I saw it was available for audio and read by the author herself I knew I had to enjoy this way.
Tanya Tagaq tells the story about growing up in Nunavut in the '70s and the impact it has had on her being. Spoken in her soft and delicate voice, it's as if she is telling you a secret and you must never tell. From the alcoholism and betrayals of loved ones to the daily bullying at school all the way to the warmest and safest moments we keep guarded in our hearts. She weaves a tale that begins so grounded you can feel the cold, smell the tea and taste the meat. Then you are transferred to the most fantastic you're unsure how you ended up in the spirit world she just spun you there so seamlessly.
I'm sure this is just as powerful a read but I truly recommend you listen instead, she transitions you between chapters with gorgeous throat singing and visceral sounds you're unsure if they are human or spirit.

2 people found this helpful

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heavy & poetic

definitely worth getting as an audiobook! Tanya Tegaq has a wonderfully expressive cadence as she reads ends each chapter with throat signing. the story is chilling and heart wrenching.

1 person found this helpful

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Awe inspiring and supernatural

I listened to this audiobook over the course of a day. It was such a novel perspective and her words beautifully paint a picture of life in the upper arctic. It really explained some of the sociological challenges of living in these isolated communities especially as a woman coming of age. The throat singing at the end of each chapter really captured the tone and emotional quality of the words written.

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Brilliant and unsettling!

Wow! I could not stop listening to this book. Stirs so many emotions...well done Tanya!!

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Beautifully uncomfortable

Tanya Tagaq had me from the first line, her strange tale is completely brought to life by her performance. She takes you to an uncomfortable place with her and keeps you there through her passionate story telling punctuated by throat singing, her pros become poetic. Maybe this review sounds more pretentious than it needs to, I just liked the book a lot!

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spellbinding

Tanya Tagaq slays us. the best read audio book to date. it's not a book, it's a piece of performance art.

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aghast

this story is devastating. with the throat singing layered between Tagaq's impassioned narration... I... I'm feeling kind of broken after listening.

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wow. just wow.

Normally I love reading to myself, but Tanya reading this, blending it with her incredible throat singing... transcendent. I was driving through northern towns while listening, transfixed. Sometimes I would just stay in my car to listen. Pretty much blew my mind. Buy the book AND the audiobook. You won't be disappointed.

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Strange and Brutal and Beautiful and More Strange

Utterly foreign, hauntingly familiar. This is my story, told in a language I have never heard.

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  • Rochelle
  • 2018-09-26

Confronting, Captivating

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.

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's a coming of age tale but not as you know it. 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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Montse
  • 2019-06-28

Unusual, poetic and spiritual

A true song to nature and to what could have been Tagaq's spiritual life. Wild and moving, shocking and soothing. An unusual, emotional roller coaster.

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  • Michelle L. Scaturro
  • 2019-05-26

astounding

an amazing story full of truth and love and delivered with fiery passion. a must read for anyone who believes in the power of love and the kinship we all have with nature. the author narrates the story, which is the reason I wanted it in audio form. she infuses her throat singing at many intervals throughout which only enhances the wonderful listening experience. was a wonderful book and will be among my favorites forever more. thank you.

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  • vera
  • 2019-02-24

Magic?

How many worlds existed in and around this main character?
How do you live “in” and react to a world of magic and yet one so free of safeguards and even ability to expect things to work out? I was engrossed by it all.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2018-10-08

Deep and wild

Tanya Tagaq tells her story with great intimacy. A powerful view into the life and spirituality of the Inuit people.

1 person found this helpful

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  • DaiLynn
  • 2020-02-28

uhhh what?

this book is read like if moaning myrtle from the Harry potter movies was trying to be a chaotic goddess. this narration is fit in between segments of gratuitous uncomfortable human sounds that will make you consider never coming back to the book again. I did enjoy the story by the time it was over, it tells a story about a life I'll never live and tells it from the perspective of a very spiritual narrator. it gave me plenty to consider, but I'd probably advise any friends of mine to read read it instead of listening to this version.

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  • Amiesbookreviews
  • 2020-02-07

Poignant. Visceral. Heart-breaking and real.

**TRIGGER WARNING **
This book contains descriptions of child sexual abuse. If this topic is a trigger for you, I suggest you give this book a pass.
***************************

I purchased a copy of this audiobook from Audible and now that I have finished listening to it, I believe audio is the best way to experience SPLIT TOOTH.

I feel so privileged to have listened to author Tanya Tagaq read her book aloud. Traditionally, the Inuit people passed down their stories and traditions in exactly this manner. Oral storytelling was the norm.

Not only does the author read this book with emotion and depth of experience,  she also includes quite a bit of Throat Singing which is incredible to listen to.
The sounds are somehow both ethereal and haunting and despite the lack of lyrics, or maybe because of it, the meanings behind the sounds are quite clear.

Poignant. Visceral. Heart-breaking and real. Tanya Tagaq manages to convey her story in such a unique fashion that it is impossible to ever forget. Despite the heaviness of some of the subject matter, there are many moments of joy, happiness, peace, and a sense of belonging to something greater than herself.

The unfortunate details of abuse, both physical and sexual that Tanya endured as a child were perpetrated by those who should have been her protectors.

No matter what she endured, she knew that she was capable of survival.

The evils of the Canadian Residential Schools had so thoroughly erased her native language that hardly anyone in her ‘town’ knew how to speak it anymore. Not only that, but unthinkable abuses – sexual, physical, cultural and mental were forced upon Residential School “students,” (who were actually prisoners, since neither the children, nor their parents had any choice about attending.)

Make no mistake – these “schools” were an attempt at genocide of the Inuit and of all Indigenous people. There is no excuse or apology that can be adequate enough to erase the damage they caused. And, that damage has reached across the hands of time and affected many children of subsequent generations, including Tanya herself.

Don’t mistake my description to mean that Tanya Tagaq’s memoir is a litany of anger and complaint. It is anything but. Her writing is akin to reading her diary. Listening to the audiobook, I feel as though I have seen inside her very soul. If that sounds over dramatic, I apologize, it is truly the way I feel.

This audiobook is not to be missed. I am sure that just reading the book would be a terrific experience, but as I said above, audio format makes this book not just a story, but also an experience.

I am rating SPLIT TOOTH by TANYA TAGAQ as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 

Tanya also has many music albums available for purchase and after hearing some of her traditional throat singing, I will be downloading her music as well.

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  • just asking for some common sense
  • 2019-01-21

A unique and moving book

This book is filled with difficulties and sadness, joy, mythical connections, and beauty. It is beautifully written and performed and includes many segments of throat singing for which the author is known. I understand that some of this is poetry in here as well as prose so someday I want to see a paper copy of it for the poetry segments.

I'm not sure this book is for everyone, but if you can make a connection to it then it is a worthy read or listen. I'm hoping that she will write more books. I would certainly be willing to go on that journey with her again. I give it a solid 5 stars all around.

The author is also a gifted artist. I'm in awe of her talent