Born with a Tooth | Joseph Boyden

The cover of Boyden's Born with a ToothI love a good short story collection, and Boyden’s Born with a Tooth fits the bill perfectly. These 13 short stories were the fuel that launched Boyden’s award winning career.

Each of these stories (with one exception) is told from the perspective of a modern day First Nations person—man, woman, young, old. Boyden writes in a simple engaging way that gives you a sense of what it’s like to share in that person’s culture.

Of course, many of the themes are difficult. Land appropriation, residential schools, alcoholism, suicide, homelessness, and casinos are all part of Born with a Tooth. Boyden’s storytelling, even while relating a tragic story, uncovers unexpected glimpses of nobility and beauty, grace and life.

If you’ve read The Orenda, the last four stories in this collection will be especially interesting. In them, Boyden tells the same story through the eyes of four different participants. As in The Orenda, cultural misunderstanding is vividly illustrated. Each story will elicit empathy for its respective lead character.

Thanks to Brian Lachine for this great gift!

—Joseph Boyden, Born with a Tooth (Toronto, ON: Hamish Hamilton, 2008).

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