Tanya Tagaq is a musical artist in more ways than one. As a world-renowned Inuit throat singer, she has already stunned the world with her powerful songs and lyrics, but now in her first memoir, an explosive combination of narrative, poetry, myth, truth, and ferocity, she weaves the story of a young girl who comes of age in a small Arctic town, bound by boredom and violence, natural wonder and the spirit world. Life is a beautiful and terrifying thing, and Split Tooth contains all of it.
Longlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize
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.
About the Author
TANYA TAGAQ 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 fundamental phenomenon. While the Polaris Prize signaled an awakening to Tanya Tagaq's art and messages, she has been touring and collaborating with an elite international circle of artists for over a decade. Tagaq's improvisational approach lends itself to collaboration across genres, and recent projects have pulled her in vastly different directions, from contributing guest vocals to a F**ked Up song (a hardcore punk band from Toronto) to premiering a composition made for Kronos Quartet's Fifty for the Future collection, and composing a piece for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Tanya's most recent album Retribution was released in fall 2016.
Audiobook finalist for the 2019 Audie Awards (Literary Fiction & Classics category)
“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
"[A] forceful coming-of-age tale.” –Toronto Life magazine