Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans—though no one calls them that anymore. His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that animals had been infected with a virus and their meat had become poisonous. Then governments initiated the Transition. Now, human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.
Then one day he’s given a gift: a specimen of the finest quality. He leaves her in his barn, tied up, a problem to be disposed of later. But she haunts Marcos. Her trembling body, her watchful, knowing eyes. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.
I’ve had my eye on this Pushkin Press delicacy for what feels like eternity, I was extremely excited when the publishers sent me an e-copy to devour and ponder over, now my thoughts have marinated, I can now regurgitate them to you, and why you should absolutely purchase this horrific bookish bite. Tender Is The Flesh was written in Argentinian by Agustina Bazterrica, and translated into English by Sarah Moses. If I can tempt you with this novella treat, it’s available to pre – order today for publication day tomorrow. You can check it out here.
If you’re not into gore, this may not be the read for you – Tender Is The Flesh is not for the faint hearted, that being said I felt that every occasion of gore was necessary to create the impact of the issue sewn into this reads very core. I would describe this translated fiction novel as a shocking dystopian that speedily spirals the reader into an alternative world where farm livestock and animals have become infected with a fatal biological epidemic that can be spread to humans. With no other animal meat available, the human race has become cannibalistic, consuming human meat that is born and bred within breeding centres with a fate of death by slaughter house. Due to this extraordinary unique concept, Agustina allows the walls of the meat industry to be chipped away, where the reader is unveiled to the brutality and death that livestock experience in the real world, while also touching on the impact it has on the slaughter house employees. This isn’t a preach read, it’s a well thought out and excellently executed (sorry about the choice of words) read that will not only have you pondering what goes on behind closed doors but also expand your mind concerning the origins of the meat we consume.
Our protagonist is Marco, an individual who has experienced his fair share of tragedy and is also surrounded by the taint of death as he runs his father’s slaughterhouse. The job has taken it’s psychological toll on him and he’s become dissociated in various aspects of his life, as well as with people in general. Through his eyes, the reader experiences the unsettling environment around him and the nauseating lengths humankind will go to satisfy their consumption needs.
Agustina’s use of humans as meat is hugely impactful as it has allowed the personification of the slab of meat product on one’s plate, a hard – hitting euphemism that is a difficult one to shake. The book and its concept will bury itself under your skin with it’s Black Mirroresque feel, it will haunt you and it will also make you question everything you thought you’d known about this industry, including breeding protocol and slaughter sequences. *Shivers* As well as the meat side of the industry, Agustina touches upon issues surrounding it, such as the greed, power and political aspects where there are groups who both support and oppose the new product. The writer has clearly delved into the research side of this book. I walked away from in completely shook and without rose tinted shades on. Bravo!
As I’ve already said, Tender Is The Flesh is a translated fiction, translated to English brilliantly by Sarah Moses, so a round of applause is deserved there too. Thanks again to Pushkin Press for the copy to read pre-release.
Until next time,