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Tender is the Flesh: A tasty look at a horrible future

If you like your books dark, unrelenting dark, “Tender is the Flesh,” is for you.

Written by Augustina Bazterrica, the book takes place in a dystopian (first time I’ve ever typed the word in more 24 years as a professional reporter) future where the flesh of animals carries a virus that kills humans, so a new meat source is needed. You guessed, it human flesh.

Unlike the movie “Soylent Green,” when the population does not know they’re eating people, the population knows and does not care. Humans are bred and raised as livestock and kept separate from the rest of society – they are sent to processing plants, slaughtered and butchered and sold to the richer portions of society. Money is paid for better quality “special meat” (although people never refer to the meat as human) and different cuts of meat are created by butchers for people to enjoy.

The story follows Marcos, who works in a processing plant, who is given the gift of a female livestock of the highest quality breeding.

The story is dark and disturbing. There is no break from the overall heavy mood in the book. There is no levity or even brief moments of joy. The closest thing to any character appearing happy ends horribly.

I don’t want to get to much into the details because I don’t want to give too much away, but this is on the short list of the books I’ve read so far this year that is the running for the best book I’ve read.

“Tender is the Flesh,” isn’t for everyone. I can see some people not being able to handle the overall depression of this dark future, but it is wonderfully written and is an amazing look at what a society is willing to do if they lose something they want.

Tender is the Flesh

Augustina Bazterrica, Sarah Moses (translator) Scribner (2020) 224 pages Click here to buy.

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