Split Tooth

Narrated by: Tanya Tagaq
Length: 5 hrs and 31 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (75 ratings)

Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $34.93

Buy for $34.93

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

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

Critic Reviews

“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) 

Shortlisted, 2019 Amazon Canada First Novel Award

Winner, 2019 Indigenous Voices Award - Published Prose in English

Shortlisted, 2019 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize

Longlisted, 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Longlisted, 2019 Sunburst Award For Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic

Longlisted, 2019 Sunburst Award 

More from the same

What listeners say about Split Tooth

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    52
  • 4 Stars
    18
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    63
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    48
  • 4 Stars
    14
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Must read

As an indigenous womxn this book touched my very soul. There are no words that could ever fully describe it and give it justice. You must just read.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

an Increase telling of a Native Experience

From the Beginning to the End, every moment, every word and every part absolutely Amazing

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Difficult to listen to, beautifully written

The story is beautifully written, almost poetic. The author reads the book in a monotone, which seems appropriate. The story itself seems like a PTSD trip, an untreated schizophrenic episode or a bad LSD trip. The horrors the protagonist goes through are unsettling and poignant. I found myself just wishing it would end.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Eerie and Beautiful

Some extraordinary writing--brilliant and mysterious. I can't imagine reading this. It is meant to be heard.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

uhhh what?

Edit: I wrote the below review shortly after listening when I was still processing my discomfort with something new. I'm somewhat ashamed of what I thought and wrote but will leave it nonetheless. After sitting with it, reflecting on my own culture and norms, I've come to love this reading. I applaud Tanya Tagaq for publishing and reading this without white washing it for approachability. 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.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 02-02-20

good audiobook, bad book

you could put a gun to my head and I still wouldnt be able to tell you what this book is about. this really feels like a dream; there's weird parts that you vaguely remember and some disturbing things you remember vividly and you end up waking up confused. What's the disturbing thing I remember you ask? The main character dreamt about giving a blowjob to a fox with a gigantic dick and his cum was silver and "tasted so good". This was really bad, I might just not understand these types of books. If you like REALLY weird shit, magical realism and weird dreams you'll enjoy this. The audiobook is really good and makes you feel uncomfortable in a good way. But all in all, the one thought that summarises my feelings is "nope"

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for padster
  • padster
  • 11-02-19

A masterpiece

(Review originally written for the Arctic Book Review) - It's my impression that many readers of the Arctic Book Review are seeking stirring tales of exploration from long ago. On that basis, this book - which contains enthusiastic teenage solvent abuse, erotic encounters with wild animals and gleeful retribution against human bullies and predators - may not be everyone's cup of tea. For me, though, it's one of the most impressive books I have read in years. Author Tanya Tagaq’s Wikipedia page describes her as a “Canadian Inuk throat singer from Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuutiaq), Nunavut, Canada.” Tagaq has released four solo albums of increasing artistic range and ferocity, has collaborated with Bjork and the Kronos Quartet, tours worldwide, is an accomplished painter and an outspoken advocate for indigenous rights and climate activism. It would be no exaggeration to say that she's an Inuit superstar. This is her first book. Split Tooth is a novel, with frequent nods to memoir, poetry, and traditional tales. At times, to this reader from a temperate clime, the book reads like science fiction or horror: encounters with the Northern Lights, journeys by snowmobile over frozen seas, battles with malignant spirits and musings on quantum physics. But at its icy, fiery heart, this is a book about female puberty. The unnamed protagonist, when we first meet her, is an eleven-year-old girl living in a small village by Cambridge Bay in the High Arctic. Awkward, smart, and not particularly popular, she spends the long days and long nights in her home town negotiating the universally recognizable childhood assault course of friends, bullies, teachers, neighbors and relatives, while at the same time wishing she had ‘actual breasts’. Alongside this familiar-yet-unfamiliar narrative, there runs a strand of poetry, blocks of text in Inuktitut syllabics, and excellent pop culture illustrations (by Jaime Hernandez.) Some of the events described or alluded to are shocking. Tagaq certainly pulls no punches. This is not the Arctic wonderland of noble natives that some readers may expect. The first sentence of the book is “Sometimes we would hide in the closet when the drunks came home from the bar.” Alcohol seems mostly for the adults and their tedious rowdy house parties - to be avoided. Our hero and her pals start with cigarette ends and pilfered joints, moving up to butane, rubber cement and gasoline huffed out of snowmobiles. What else is there to do when night and day have no meaning, nothing seems worth learning and the adults are either passed out from booze or away hunting? We learn, as our young hero does, that loud country music blasting from a house is a warning sign - and this is the kind of shorthand at which Tagaq excels, sketching the line from colonial corruption to child abuse. Predatory adult males are a daily challenge - the teacher who habitually gropes his pupils under their desks, the relatives who sneak into children’s bedrooms at night. One of the first poems in the book is called "Sternum," and begins as a meditation on the human breastbone and ribcage. The last few lines come with the kind of kick that marks her writing throughout - The Human Sternum is used for so many things Clavicles like handlebars Ribs like stairs The sternum is the shield Even when impaired Even when it smothers a little girl's face As the bedsprings squeak However - and I cannot emphasize this enough - Split Tooth is not a grim, dour book. It is a tragedy and a triumph. The book's second strand, of poems, dreams and folk tales, initially a kind of counterpoint to the coming-of-age dramas of village life, gradually takes over the life of the book. The day-to-day narrative starts to incorporate brushes with malevolent spirits. Wild animals, such as the fox she encounters beneath her parents’ house while hiding from the school bully, walk into her dreams and begin to demand their due or bestow favor. In a key chapter on which the book’s plot turns, she walks out onto the sea ice one night and has an encounter with the Northern Lights that changes her life. What started out as a funny, harrowing tale of village life for an awkward teenager turns into a psychedelic spiritual ordeal ending up with some extraordinary choices for Tagaq’s young hero. I am being circumspect - this book is a page turner, and I’d really hate to spoil it with any further clues. If you choose to read this book, you will be hanging on by your fingertips by the end. I wrote above that Split Tooth is about female puberty, but of course, Tagaq's gaze is much wider. She is a canny enough author not to be didactic or obvious, but it's clear that among her targets are colonization, institutional religion, and predatory male sexuality. She finds ways to take them all on, one by one, while keeping the book's narrative arrow flying straight. The collective trauma of her people is lived by this one small teenager. The conclusion feels like an exorcism. What makes all this work so splendidly, is that Tagaq - and her protagonist - are such perceptive, funny, rational company. The book is sharp and bright as a knife, informed not only by Inuit folktales, but also by 21st century climate politics. Every violent act or thought is balanced with kindness and empathy. The suggestive, elliptical poetry is spiced with a lot of very specific cuss words. The language is extraordinary. Has there been a better description of the disorientating effect on a community of endless Arctic daylight than “Everyone’s clocks tick sideways”? I felt like applauding at the end of each chapter at the sheer quality of the writing. The book is a firework display. For anyone who has seen Tagaq as a live musical performer, this may come as no surprise. Having read the physical edition of the book, I went in again to listen to the audio book, read by the author with brief throat-singing interludes between chapters. If I had to choose a format to recommend, it would be the audiobook. The hardback is a lovely object (and there is also a vinyl album of the poems), but the five-hour audio book is another level. It is a performance. The journey from recording studio to written page hides pitfalls that have tripped many an artist. But this book's icy white covers and red-tipped pages contain wonders. Tagaq writes with clarity, rage, humor and authority. In this book she has created what might be a defining artistic statement of the North. It is an Arctic masterpiece.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for David R Shepherd
  • David R Shepherd
  • 10-30-19

Great book!

Beautifully written and told by the author herself, it’s got the haunting magic in it. Tanya’s voice is creepy and sweet, keeps the eroticism throughout the entire book. The story alternates from terribly sad to fantastically philosophical. Great listen!