Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, Sarah Moses (Translator)

This is a pretty messed up book!

Basing the premise on the fact that animal meat has been eliminated due to a virus, making it inedible, it has become only natural to move onto the only type of meat that isn’t affected by the disease: human meat. Whilst this is an abhorrent thought, and is detailed and unveiled beautifully in the early pages of the book, by the mid-point it has become pretty much normal, which in itself is a disturbing concept.

It is this initial idea that, while disturbing (and to be fair, the main reason that I was interested in reading this book), slowly becomes less and less prominent as the book progresses and it feels like it does lose what it is trying to say and what story it wants to tell. There are some strange segues that don’t seem to lead anywhere or develop the story at all, but at the same time the central story of Marcos is ultimately one that is captivating.

It does evoke something of Michel Faber’s Under the Skin, which if you haven’t read yet I would highly recommend, and there is a slight air of George Orwell’s 1984 that comes up as the book diverges away from the human-meat concept and Marcos begins to deviate from his roles and responsibilities. Following Marcos around in his disinterested life, involving his job in the processing and procurement of “Special” meat, does a great deal to make this absurd situation all feel completely normal and it does take a few moments to jar you back into the reality of it all, and this perspective change is pretty shocking when it happens.

The ending didn’t quite land with the same impact as the opening but this book is an easy, if disturbing at times, read which is mainly due to how well it is written and the compelling storyline and world that Marcos is inhabiting.

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