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Tender Is the Flesh

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  10,694 ratings  ·  2,832 reviews
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
Paperback, 211 pages
Published August 4th 2020 by Scribner (first published November 29th 2017)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  10,694 ratings  ·  2,832 reviews

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lark benobi
One of the most relentless and ugly books I've ever read. A book that describes a society where humans are slaughtered for meat, in more detail than I was ready for. This novel willfully refuses to allow itself to fall into any category of fiction that would make it easier to take as a reader. The flat direct style of its prose didn't allow me as a reader to classify it, as I read along, as horror, or satire, or a metaphorical representation of social injustice, or a nihilistic moral thesis abou ...more
Jr Bacdayan
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
A mysterious virus has eradicated animals to the brink of mass extinction. Left with no meat source to cultivate, humanity has turned to cannibalism to whet its appetite, satiate its ceaseless hunger for flesh and blood. Humans are now domesticated, mass produced, slaughtered, and sold for "special meat." Pickled fingers, barbecued ribs, broiled tongue served over kimchi and potato salad, taste humanity dressed in herbs and spices.

Marcos is from the past generation. He was among those who witne
Roman Clodia
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bold. Subversive. Punchy. Nauseating. Provocative. Challenging. Excessive. Polemical. Gruesome.

In 1729, Jonathan Swift published a sustained Juvenalian satire called A Modest Proposal in which he solved in one move the economic and social woes of the starving poor, especially in Ireland: all they had to do was sell their children to be eaten by the rich, and not just would they become wealthy, but the population over-crowding would be eased as well. One line that has always stayed with me is thi
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Effectively an anti-factory farming polemic satirized to its shocking, inevitable conclusion, Tender Is the Flesh is a horrifying and grotesque piece of work.  Translated from the Spanish brilliantly by Sarah Moses, it tells the story of a man named Marcos who recently lost his son to a cot death and is estranged from his wife as a result.  Marcos works at a local processing plant - but instead of cattle, the plant farms and slaughters humans, following a virus which infected all non-human anima ...more
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
It's always a delight to read science fiction in translation and even more that ava raris, Latin American science fiction. Latin American lit is so often crushed into the mold of magic realism that, like a black hole, publishing sucks up all the works that do not ascribe to that category and condemns them to darkness. But Tender is the Flesh is definitely science fiction. It would sit prettily (or disturbingly) next to The Road or Under the Skin. It has that quality of a literary, high-quality d ...more
Nilufer Ozmekik
Nov 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is vile, bold, dark, vicious, gory, bloody, disturbing, eerie, volatile, provocative!

Let out your screams! Prepare to sleep with lights on! If you suffer insomnia or still believe in monsters hide under your beds ( I personally recheck my closets and bed before going to bed) this book is not great fit for you ( when I still look my face paler than snow owl and bloodshot eyes make me great candidate for any B rated horror movie star, I absolutely agree to this opinion. Why the hell I chose
Jessica Woodbury
Sometimes I'll be talking with someone about a book and they'll see that I liked it but I will have to jump in and say, "That doesn't mean I recommend it," because they are two very different things. And this is one of those times. It doesn't mean I don't think TENDER IS THE FLESH should be read, but recommending requires thinking about the other reader and what they want, and I have to acknowledge that most readers are not going to want the kind of experience this book gives them.

I have tagged
Johann (jobis89)
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“That’s why I smoke and drink, so I taste bitter and no one gets any pleasure out of my death.”

Oh boy. Tender is the Flesh is one of the most brutal and disturbing books I’ve ever read. Believe the hype surrounding this messed-up dystopian/science fiction novel. I could not put it down.

A mysterious virus infects all animals, causing their meat to become poisonous. In order to overcome this problem, the governments initiate The Transition - which legalises the production and consumption of human
Oct 22, 2020 added it
This is the most disturbing book I have ever read, and I’m not rating it. It makes me want to scrub my brain with bleach.

This book is largely a commentary on the mistreatment of animals via factory farming, hunting for sport, etc etc. Humans are used as an example in this cannibalistic society to really make us examine these practices by using graphic descriptions that hit closer to home than animal abuses seem to for a lot of people.

On top of all the insane and devastating things done to human
Nenia Campbell
Mar 01, 2020 marked it as to-read
"imagines a dystopian world in which animals have been wiped out, humans are being harvested for food, and society has been divided into those who eat and those who are eaten"

omg that's fucking terrifying
In its scathing and visceral indictment of factory farming, Tender is the Flesh seems to forget that politics and (in)justice extend beyond the—still important—realm of animal cruelty and capitalism.

There is not nearly enough interrogating of broader themes in this book to justify its shock value, self-righteous narrator, and disgusting, dehumanizing portrayal of women and marginalized people.
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
5.0 Stars
This has to be one of the most brutal and disturbing novels I have ever read. And I absolutely loved it.

This story contained some incredibly visceral and disgusting scenes of body horror. Readers must expect all the possible content warnings in this book. I have never seriously considered becoming a vegetarian, but this book certainly made me think about it. I found meat absolutely disgusting while reading this book due to the stomach churning descriptions.

Overall, I thought this book w
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated
“No one can call them humans because that would mean giving them an identity. They call them product, or meat, or food.”

This book was weird. It definitely succeeded at being repulsive and stomach-turning at times. And I thought it had some interesting ideas about words and how they are wielded to shape public opinion. But unfortunately it felt underdeveloped and a bit cold. I didn’t feel any connection to Marcos or what was happening, but instead felt so outside of the story I was only ever move
Oct 03, 2020 added it
Shelves: read-in-2020, dnf
Interesting idea but really boring execution
Jordaline Vulva
Dec 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jesus christ. Gut wrenching. BRB gunna go cry and then contemplate my existence.
Tender is the Flesh . Yep, that cannibalism book. An imagined future in which animal products are poison and humans are farmed for meat. It’s provocative, brutal and in-your-face.

This is a tricky book to grade, because I think it works in some ways and not others. Leaving authorial intentions aside, I’m going to give you three ways this book doesn’t quite work, and one way that it does (brilliantly).

Polemic / allegory for animal rights
Swapping out the animal bodies for human ones, Bazterrica
Edward Lorn
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The best final line in a novel since PET SEMATARY.
Mark Porton
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Well, I’m not sure what to say about Tender is the Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica. I can’t really complain because I should’ve known what I was getting into.

This story is about a Dystopian future where animal meat is poisonous to humans due to a virus. This left the human race with a problem. They needed to source protein, so it came to pass they ended up breeding humans to slaughter for human meat consumption. You could debate the need to eat meat as a source of protein, many large animals and
Christina Dalcher
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs, favorites
I’m breaking my indefinite hiatus as an active Goodreads member because I. Need. To. Shout. Out. This. Book.

The logline says it all, creates the world, and asks the question: Everyone is eating human meat. Would you?

Bazterrica gives us a wonderfully conflicted main character, a story that will rip into your heart, scenes that you might want to forget (but won’t be able to). If you read this book and keep your focus at the sentence level, you’ll miss something. If you read this book and take the
Oct 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, horror
Many might say that a book dealing with the level of brutality and horrific subject matter that makes up this book could never be thoughtful or highbrow. I disagree with that. I definitely think literature depicting graphic violence doesn't automatically disqualify it from being anything more than an assault on the senses or torture porn. I think it can lay out valuable examinations of so many aspects of society that deserve to be scrutinized, all while remaining allegorical. Battle Royale by Ko ...more
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chelsey (a_novel_idea11)
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways-arcs
Dark and twisted, this short novel explores a future world where consuming or coming into contact with animals is lethal to humans and cannibalism has been legalized and normalized.

Marcos is second in command at a reputable slaughter house. The factory not only offers citizens “special meat” for consumption, but also specializes in providing “heads” for domestic use, breeding, experimentation, and sport. With cannibalism legal, rigorous standards have been set in place for quality product and t
Abbie | ab_reads
Hands down one of the most brutal books I've read this year, or indeed ever! Tender Is the Flesh is set in Argentina in the near future, after a virus has wiped out most of the animal population. To meet the demands for meat, cannibalism has been sanctioned. Now, humans are bred for mass consumption.
The use of language in this book fascinated me the most. It seems impossible that society could get used to eating humans as food, but Bazterrica shows you how people can become deadened to the idea
Lady H
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
Tender is the Flesh is a gory and harsh criticism of factory farming, but it's also an overarching critique of human nature, the culture of excessive consumption, and capitalism. It imagines a world that has descended into cannibalism: suddenly animals have come down with some kind of virus that makes it impossible to eat them, and so the world pivots to eating humans. I think this is the only bit where a good amount of suspension of disbelief is necessary, as it seems like everyone pivoted a li ...more
Books with Brittany
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh that ending though. This short book accomplished exactly what it set out to do. Just what I was looking for.
Aug 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: translated
If there was ever a book to truly merit being called disturbing, it's Tender is the Flesh.

The premise of Tender is the Flesh is evocative enough--a world where humans are bred, processed, and sold as meat for consumption--but the execution is far more chilling in its gruesome detail. What could possibly have led to a world where the consumption of human flesh is accepted as a given, much less industrialized and streamlined? Bazterrica fills in these gaps, providing plenty of context as to what c
Feb 11, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5/5 stars

This is easily the most disgusting and awful book I’ve ever read. It’s about cannibalism becoming legalised after a virus contaminates animal meat, which now kills whoever eats it. It’s a condemnation of the meat-processing industry, which is truly vile, but I feel it goes too far in many places.

The book follows Marcos, a man who remembers a time before the Transition (when the government legalised cannibalism). He works as a manager for a processing plant and he travels to many di
Okay, now that is what I call a horror novel. And if like me you enjoy snacking while reading, forget it with this one. Disquieting and unsettling, ‘Tender is the Flesh’ takes a high-concept metaphor for capitalism and consumerism and goes for broke. I suspect that many readers may blanch when they start reading, and then throw in the towel when they get to a certain bravura section.

This is when our protagonist takes a couple of would-be job applicants through a meat-processing plant, from sheph
Renee Nicole
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, audiobook
Tender is the Flesh is not an enjoyable book.

There is truly nothing good about it, in any sense of the word. It's the opposite of everything that is good in this world, and I hated it. I hated every god-damned second of it.

In Augustina Bazterrica's horrific dystopia, society has lost its ability to eat all animals and has begun to breed humans for cannibalistic consumption. It's also an accepted practice. There are rules and regulations created by the government regarding breeding and processing
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I will admit up front that I only finished this book because it was included in the Tournament of Books shortlist. Look, I encountered A Modest Proposal as required reading in high school, so I know all the points that are made when a book is about people turning to human flesh for consumption. The points are the same but it is fleshed out slightly different in this novel.

... (Did you get my joke?)

How the "special meat" is produced brings the people in the story more directly into contact with t
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Agustina Bazterrica nació en Buenos Aires, en 1974. Es Licenciada en Artes (UBA). Ganó el Primer Premio Municipal de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires Cuento Inédito 2004/5 y el Primer Premio en el XXXVIII Concurso Latinoamericano de Cuento “Edmundo Valadés”, Puebla, México, 2009, entre otros. Tiene cuentos y poesías publicados en antologías, revistas y diarios. Escribe reseñas y artículos para distintos ...more

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"Oh, we are living a dystopian reality!" You've heard it, you may have even said it. But despite what's happening in the world—or maybe because...
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“Because hatred gives one strength to go on; it maintains the fragile structure, it weaves the threads together so that emptiness doesn’t take over everything.” 7 likes
“No one can call them humans because that would mean giving them an identity. They call them product, or meat, or food. Except for him; he would prefer not to have to call them by any name.” 4 likes
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