Eat Human Flesh if You Have to Survive! A Review of Tender Is the Flesh

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Book Review of Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

What if I tell you that you got to kill and consume another being to stay alive? Can you do it? Let’s enter a world where flesh-eating is legal and you gotta “eat it” to survive. But hey, don’t call it human flesh huh? Beware… you might be dragged to the slaughterhouse too.

Scandalized? You should be!!

There are days when I feel the reading slump threatening to envelop me and put me off for quite a while. These are those times when I always turn to an exciting new thriller which acts as the perfect breakthrough read, refraining me from getting into that slump. That was actually one of the major reasons why I had turned towards this one hurriedly, to avoid that slump.

Survival of the fittest.

This a dictum we have been hearing since we are born and since our generations have walked upon and been a part of this planet called earth. But, tell me something, guys. Who specifically gives humans the so-called right to decide who is the fittest? We ourselves are the ones to decide and go ahead with that thought process. So technically we are doing it out of our free will, authority and better judgment and not anyone else’s.

Ok, now an interesting altercation, if you guys, please. Imagine in case we proceed to the next level in our existence albeit in a grisly, grim manner how would it be? Say, for instance, we, are already in the process of killing animals for their meat, what if we were to transcend to something like cannibalism and legalize it in due course of time just to fulfil that urge of ours to eat meat? 

Eat Human Flesh if You Have to Survive! A Review of Tender Is the Flesh

In case you guys have been wondering what has gotten in me today to discuss such intense thoughts, well I recently read and dusted off with Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, translated by Sarah Moses. Boy, I literally felt as if I had been plonked in a vat full of the grim sarcasm of humanity and those traits which make us as “inhuman” as we are and can be at any point in time during the existence of our species.

The plot for starters seemed to be crawling under my skin and how! In fact, if truth be told, the initial 50 pages were pure torture, agony to the point of non-endurance. In other words, “It was repulsive yet magnetic”. Not that I am condemning the Author’s ability but grotesqueness is a phenomenon that remains unendurable in all case scenarios, for all those privy to it alike. 

As I was mentioning earlier the initial pages made me feel nauseous as the vividness and the graphical descriptiveness used by the writer to explain the entire aspect of the cannibalism-aka legalizing eating human flesh which as I am sure you will agree is by itself a very tantalizing culture shock. The way people were getting intimidated, the way they were encouraged to incorporate this flesh-eating more out of compulsion and necessity in their lives rather than any other reason, made me sick to take this concept in completely. Legalizing cannibalism and identifying human flesh as “special meat”, normalizing the practice of eating it as well as industrializing the whole aspect is something that will take a bit of time and acceptance to get accustomed to as an idea, I’d say. 

However, I have to commend that once the initial culture shock settled in, I could see through the aspect, the thought process as well as the motto Agustina was trying to put forth. The initial discomfort actually set the pace and ball rolling for the remarkable read that was about to follow since as I proceeded I realized that not only was I intrigued enough to the point of crazy, there was a grim, demon-like sort of acceptance even in the manner I seemed to be comprehending and accepting all that was plonked my way by way of the story, the plot as well as the characters.

Yes, if you ask me, Agustina definitely for one has not been trying to show us the future, rather I feel she has dabbled with the metaphors that seem to exist in our race in present times. Yes, we are a species who in a gallantry fit of “survival for the fittest” can be expected to go to any lengths to simply fulfil our needs and unnecessary internal wishes. Indeed, we can resort to even worse to put forward our needs and that too even at the cost of nature and humanity.

Marcos for me was that idealistic representation of who we humans truly are and that is what we signify today, tomorrow as well as in the dystopian future. Absolutely can see through and agree with this-yes we are a species truly selfish enough to only set store and believe in our own existence, prioritizing our own survival, even if it comes at a cost.

As grotesque and barbarous the depiction be, we cannot help but believe and accept that yes this is truly who we are and what we are poised to become a bloody, emotionless species who are only interested in keeping their own selves alive and kicking even if this might be at the cost of causing harm to another being. We become so self-centred and so richly consumed by our own free will that we fail to show even a shard of emotion and apathy towards another soul, degrading our emotions to the point of nothingness in the process. 

That is exactly the point of this book and my biggest takeaway and observations from this one. Yes indeed, we are made that way and it is time we hard-wired our soul dispersions if we want to avoid resorting to and turning into the “inhuman” sort of humanity that has been depicted in this dystopia. A brilliant piece of writing, this one I felt was equal parts unsettling, thrilling, gross as well as pulse racing. Writing compelling enough to make you question as well as challenge the core of your rationale, this is definitely one of the most powerful writings of not only this year but many many years to come. That is because, even though conceptually it might have been intimidating, one cannot deny that, radically it provides a shout-out, a wake-up call for us, enlisting – where are we exactly going to land up?

Towards the end, after reading through the climax all my notions seemed shattered as I could only falter, realizing the kind of species we are, dangerous, self-centred, hellishly selfish and monstrous enough to do anything to satisfy their own wishes.

Related:

A stellar read, go prepare to throw up and yet be curious and intrigued to a point of demented inertia, preparing to be transported to the Lala land of “He who adheres to, survives”.

Tender Is the Flesh

Neelam Sharma www.booxoul.com
Author: Agustina Bazterrica

Story
Narrative
Characters
Language

Summary

It all happened so quickly. First, animals became infected with the virus and their meat became poisonous. Then governments initiated the Transition. Now, ‘special meat’ – human meat – is legal.

Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans – only no one calls them that. He works with numbers, consignments, and processing. One day, he’s given a gift to seal a deal: a specimen of the finest quality. He leaves her in his barn, tied up, a problem to be disposed of later.

But she haunts Marcos. Her trembling body, and watchful gaze, seem to understand. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost – and what might still be saved.

5

So, hope you liked the book review of Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica.

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