With all the social media that I’ve seen about Tender is the Flesh, I went in expecting something great, and wanting to be able to criticise. However, on the last part, I was unsuccessful.
This short novel by Agustina Bazterrica depicts Marcos, a man whose wife is “staying with her sister”, whose child has recently passed away and who works in a meat processing plant.
Sounds like a work about how Marcos deals with the tragedy, right? In a way. But in another way, no.
The story goes that all animals have contracted a disease that makes them inedible – in fact, we had to destroy them all. To make up for this we now eat “special meat” – human meat.
I don’t want to give too much away here. Marcos works at the processing plant and thus the reader gets a brilliant overview of how the whole system works, what the process is like, what the meat vendors are like and how humans in general are reacting to the “transition”. If you’ve read Brave New World, it’s a bit like that chapter where you’re on a tour around the baby-making factory – but with cannibalism.
Marcos acquires a woman from a friend – a gift for him to slaughter and consume. But something inside Marcos makes him act differently.
Tender is the Flesh makes you question how far you would go. What would you do, if everyone else was?
Like I said above, I wanted to find something to nitpick. But I didn’t. I love every part of this short novel. It was wonderfully done dystopia – change ONE thing and EVERYTHING changes. Tender is the Flesh is a must to be put on your TBR pile.
You can buy it here, via Pushkin press.