Book Review: Tender Is The Flesh

To think that the book that possibly best describes 2020 was published in 2017! The English publication of Tender Is The Flesh by @pushkin_press and @scribnerbooks earlier this year couldn’t have been more timely.

Bazterrica introduces to us a dystopian world where a virus affecting all animals (or is it a international wide-ranging government conspiracy?) has forced people to kill all of them to prevent deadly infection and a potential extinction of the human race. After a short stint with veganism (it didn’t take, apparently we love meat too much) humans become cannibals. Immigrants, the poor and basically brown and Black people are eaten first until we decide to breed humans for consumption. Crazy right? It is also brutal, gory and scary. Our protagonist, who is going through a personal tragedy, is gifted a woman for his consumption but how he decides to deal with her changes his life forever.

It is brutal, full of animal cruelty and violence (even sexual violence), racism (especially anti-Black), xenophobia and murder. The depiction of women (ironically) isn’t great, and I found it puzzling that the head of companies profiting from human breeding and consumption were foreigners (was it meant to deflect responsibility from Argentinians or expose economic colonialism?). However, all and all I loved it. Yes, even the polarizing ending. We get all the big 2020 topics here: racism, xenophobia, destructive capitalism, pandemics, conspiracy theories and political corruption. Like a modern day Nostradamus or an Argentinian Walter Mercado, she saw it coming way before 2020 brought it to life. If you haven’t read it yet.. why?

Author: Carla Hafez

Reader of mostly literary fiction and own-voices fiction. Latina. Feminist. Amateur reviewer. Opinionated. Unapologetically progressive. Mom. Wife. Believer.

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