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 too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.
Then one day he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. 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.
About the Author
Agustina Bazterrica is an Argentinian novelist and short story writer. She is a central figure in the Buenos Aires literary scene. She has received several awards for her writing, most notably the prestigious Premio Clarin Novela for her second novel, Tender Is the Flesh.
PRAISE FOR TENDER IS THE FLESH BY AGUSTINA BAZTERRICA
WINNER OF ARGENTINA’S CLARÍN NOVELA PRIZE 2017
“From the first words of the Argentine novelist Agustina Bazterrica’s second novel, “Tender Is the Flesh,” the reader is already the livestock in the line, reeling, primordially aware that this book is a butcher’s block, and nothing that happens next is going to be pretty.”
—New York Times Book Review
"The novel is horrific, yes, but fascinatingly provocative (and Orwellian) in the way it exposes the lengths society will go to deform language and avoid moral truths."
—Taylor Antrim, Vogue
“Taut and thought-provoking...a chilling and alarmingly prophetic book...this is an urgent cautionary tale...timely, crucial.”
—Words Without Borders
"A ruthlessly clever, Orwellian satire of our dog-eat-dog, er, man-eat-man modern world."
“It is a testament to Bazterrica’s skill that such a bleak book can also be a page-turner. An unrelentingly dark and disquieting look at the way societies conform to committing atrocities.”
"Propulsive and deranged, Tender Is the Flesh is a weird and quick read that strays far enough from our current reality to be utterly engrossing... and a book that will stick with you for a long time."
“This translated prizewinner by Argentinian novelist Bazterrica exquisitely dishes up an intricate tale of a systematized dystopian society… a sagacious and calculated exploration of the limits of moral ambiguity; it sears and devastates.”
—Booklist, starred review
"This book will pull you in, take hold, and not let go until you reach the final page—perhaps far longer than that. Without a doubt, my favorite read of this year.”
—Christina Dalcher, author of Vox
"What a compelling, terrible beauty this novel is. My heart was breaking even as my skin was crawling.”
—Lisa McInerney, author of The Glorious Heresies
“Provocative, muscular, and entirely unforgiving, this terrifying novel is a timely reminder that words have the power to strip us of our humanity. I gulped it down with my heart racing.”
—Sue Rainsford, author of Follow Me to Ground
“A brutal tale of what humans are capable of inflicting on themselves when social norms collapse. Grotesque, gloriously nasty. Utterly compelling.”
—Lucie McKnight Hardy, author of Water Shall Refuse Them
"A skin-crawling yet compelling read."
"Grimly engrossing with a sucker-punch ending."
"This is a hideous, bold and unforgettable vision of the future. Just make sure you've eaten before picking it up."
"[A] thrilling dystopia that everyone should read for Bazterrica's stunning, electrifying language and story-telling—that is, if you can stomach it."
—Dazed & Confused Magazine
"Horribly effective... This provocative novel expertly wields a double-edged cleaver..."
"A compelling dystopian novel."
"Told with a chilly allofness that makes the horror of it all the more disturbing."
"Sitting comfortably? Not after even the tiniest nibble of this gut-churning, brilliantly realised novel."
“At what price is a world without animals viable? That’s the question posted by Argentinian author Agustina Bazterricca.... With an artfulness perfectly calibrated with irony, [she] presents an astounding portrait of a humanity ready to do anything to satisfy itself, even at its own expense.
“A dystopic fable as chilling as it is compelling.”
“Hypnotic.... [Bazterrica’s] hell is akin to that of Richard Fleischer’s and Soylent Green.”
“From a fear of the future (overpopulation and a shortage of meat), Bazterrica has penned a stunning novel on the plasticity of our moral values, and what Hannah Arendt called 'the banality of evil.'”
“Heiress to Orwell, the Argentinian author deploys a voice as vivid as it is chilling. In an increasingly dehumanized world, she pushes us to a dizzying reflection on violence, love, [and] power."
“This Argentinian novel, winner of the Clarin prize in 2017, pulls no punches. Agustina Bazterrica succeeds in normalizing a cruelty beyond words.”
—Le Canard Enchainé
“A political fable, a denunciation by way of absurdity on the fate society reserves for animals and a love story outside conventional norms, [this novel] seizes you and won’t let go.
“Skilled seamstress, Agustina [Baztericca] unspools her thread and stitches the words to bring us wherever she wants, upending our sensibility through a ride that has everything in a final twist.”
“A fable on the gruesome side of the modern world, impressionistic and poetic.”
“A biting and uncompromising expression of what happens daily in our society.”
“Hypnotic, gruesome, beautiful, captivates the reader within moments.”
“Heavy, magnetic, disturbing—the novel of the year.”