Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica is a horror that addresses raw human nature. In Tender is the Flesh, all animals are dead, and we farm humans for meat.
In this book, we follow our main character as his personal life is falling apart and society is slipping into madness. His wife has left him after his son has passed away, and, his father is slipping into dementia while his sister seemingly doesn’t care.
Oh, and, no big deal but, eating human meat is legal now.
Marcos, our main character, works for a meat processing plant and does his best not to let it take away his humanity.
Agustina Bazterrica does an amazing job of world-building in what one would consider a short standalone book. There was a lot of description needed for us to understand how our government would approve of such a thing, but the way it was put in the story made sense. Additionally, the world-building was truly part of the horror experience, and I think that that really assisted in making one squeamish while reading.
In the book, the main character seemingly separates himself from society in that he doesn’t want to cave into needing the “special meat”. This makes him feel more like what you would think of yourself in this situation and makes the character more likable. However, by the end of the book, those feelings drastically change.
My original review of this book was literally, “what the fuck”, and I stand by that as the ending truly made me feel that way.
This book opened up interesting conversations with friends and family, who easily say “well I would just go vegan”, which makes my vegan friends ask, “Then why aren’t you now?”. It also addresses how corrupt our government is. That it could so easily be convinced by large meat companies to cave into the change of laws and allows for eating human meat. And, how likely that would be given the circumstances. Part of me would like another story in which we address that this was a government ploy to curb population, but, for the short story it was- this was an amazing, stomach-churning story.