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Split Tooth

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  8,928 ratings  ·  1,500 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 202 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Viking
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Adelaide I go back and forth on this one. It was definitely hard for me to read/comprehend the poetry because I am not literate in poetry. Once I got to the en…moreI go back and forth on this one. It was definitely hard for me to read/comprehend the poetry because I am not literate in poetry. Once I got to the end of the book I was able to connect a lot of the "far-out" aspects of storytelling used throughout the book, until the end it was hard for me. It's not an easy read for sure.(less)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  8,928 ratings  ·  1,500 reviews

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Lala BooksandLala
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canada, 2019-read
Now also available in German: Eisfuchs
While listening to the 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
One of the most unique and interesting audiobooks I’ve ever listened to

Reading vlog where I read it: https://youtu.be/VOeMnQfn7lA
Leah Jane
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jacob Kolody
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Carolyn Walsh
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Althea ☾
[UPDATE: I made a mistake in my initial review. The sounds that are in between chapters is throat singing from those who are of Inuit heritage, if I'm not mistaken, and I just wanted that to be known because I wasn't aware of it when I read this book.]


This book has really strong themes that was tackled in a very upfront way but it was not for me. And that's fine, I acknowledge it, I will still recommend this.

tw// (view spoiler)
I don't really know how to rate this. Split Tooth is a work of art, a combination of poetry, prose and throat singing (DO listen to it on audio, it is a must), and as a whole it creates a very immersive experience. However, I will be lying if I said I understood and enjoyed this piece in its entirety. I may have gotten more out of it if I had more cultural context to fall back on. When the narrative was grounded in reality, I was on board, when it veered into myth, I often wasn't. Tagaq's poetry ...more
A truly unique book that exists effortlessly in its own Inuit world distinct from western colonial storytelling. (I say this partially in response to reviews I've read that lament the blend of realism and myth in this book, as if some readers are frustrated by the book's lack of adherence to genre conventions. Like, that's the point??)

Split Tooth is very strange, haunting, and beautiful, moving seamlessly between realism and myth modes, if you can even separate them, which I'm not sure you can
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This audiobook was fantastic! Honestly, when I read the physical book I wasn't exactly too crazy about it, but listening to this audiobook, and Tanya herself reading her work and throat singing was just such a moving experience! I definitely recommend this to anyone and everyone! ...more
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
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.
So. Weird. What. Just. Happened. The poetry was beautiful, the myths interwoven into the story were haunting, and when I finished it I had to sit in silence and think about it for a long time. This one will stay with me for a while.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-con, 2018, indigenous
Ice in lung
Ice in Wind
Life unsung
Milk Death
Split tooth
Sorrow marrow
Whispered 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 ficti
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-5-stars
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
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
DNF half way through.

This book was just not for me. The writing was very lyrical and poetic however, poetry is one of the few genres that I can never seem to get into. Some of the writing was beautiful to me at times but I often didn't really know what was going on; I found the overall book very disordered and random. It was also very disturbing to me a lot of the time. Disturbing in itself doesn't usually bother me as I do like to read books with very difficult subject matter but for some reaso
David J
Reading Tanya Tagaq’s Split Tooth is difficult to describe. Tagaq uses prose, poetry, and illustration to tell the story of a girl traversing adolescence in the mostly insulary Nunavut, a northern Canadian territory, in the 1970s. Tagaq blurs the lines of reality with Inuit mythology, vivid dreams, and dangerous magic. We see the delicate beauty and tragic harshness of this girl’s coming of age. And while this gives Tagaq a chance to stretch her creative legs, it also left me a bit confused most ...more
Jan 02, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: diverse-recs, 2021

The rating is a little misleading because I truly don't know what to do with this. It's a case of a book that is skillfully executed in a voice unlike any other, but that was ultimately in a style that wasn't quite for me. And that's okay because this story is not for me! Also, though, because of the format of what Tagaq created, I found this was much like a poetry collection or a short story collection where there were 5 star portions and portions I felt were a little less effective, kind of av
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canlit
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. ...more
Split Tooth is a book that defies genres. It is at once an auto-fiction, a coming of age story, spoken word Inuit folklore and if you listen to the audiobook this sheer poetry is punctuated with song. Tagaq's incantations and susurrations allow Split Tooth to take on another dimension. As a reader you feel as if you are on a vision quest and Tagaq is your guiding shaman. This journey is a painful one marked by alcoholism, sexual abuse and the struggle to survive in a world that seems to be quick ...more
This story is dark, violent, haunting, fierce, tender and heartbreaking. It is a mixture or blend of poetry and prose.

"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 see
chantel nouseforaname
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
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was such a beautiful and raw novel, with its gorgeous prose describing the ugliness of several situations, the fear, joy and love, too. I loved the way the spirit world coexists with the harsh reality of the main character's life in this town. I totally loved the author's word choices, which were wonderfully apparent in the audiobook, and all the images she evoked with her visceral writing. ...more
Mary ♥
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5/5 stars

This is where my lesson was learned: pain is to be expected, courage is to be welcomed. There is no choice but to endure. There is no other way than to renounce self-doubt. It is the time of the Dawning in more ways than one. The sun can rise, and so can I.

TW: R*pe, suicide and suicidal ideation, bestiality, abuse, violence, death of children

This was my first work by an indigenous author, and let me tell you, it stole my heart, enchanted my mind and opened a whole new world of ficti
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
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.
Kaylyn Ling
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Tanya Tagaq CM is an improvisational performer, avant-garde composer, and experimental recording artist who won the 2014 Polaris Music Prize for her album Animism, a work that disrupted the music world in Canada and beyond with its powerfully original vision. Tagaq contorts elements of punk, metal, and electronica into a complex and contemporary sound that begins in breath, a communal and fundamen ...more

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“This is where my lesson was learned: pain is to be expected, courage is to be welcomed. There is no choice but to endure. There is no other way than to renounce self-doubt. It is the time of the Dawning in more ways than one. The sun can rise, and so can I” 9 likes
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