Exploring the Dystopian World of Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica
Gurleen Jassal, Contributor
After reading the novel Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica the reader will either feel uncomfortable in their own skin or question how humanity has come so far in envisioning such a gorey dystopian run world.
Originally Bazterrica wrote this novel in Spanish, later getting translated into English in 2021. In this novel we follow Marcos, a ‘special’ factory worker that has his own personal issues that have him choked throughout the novel. As meat consumption for humans in the new society is unsafe to eat; special meat becomes the main source of protein for all civilians.
As everyone in this society indulges in becoming cannibals, Marcos’ life working at this special meat factory became one of his everyday mundane tasks. Throughout the novel, we follow life through Marcos’ lens, and observe how ‘special meat’ became a huge part of his life. Personally, this was the most graphic yet interesting novel I have ever read.
As a former vegan myself, it was interesting to see a society where meat had consumed the minds of the masses, that everyone needed to consume it regardless of where it came from. Having this special meat really highlighted the aspect that humans are a type of animal.
I remember instead of the feeling of wanting meat in my life, I craved having a cold cheese string from the refrigerator.
Another perspective that I felt was a huge theme is the government trying to control society, especially if we put it into context that the more humans are getting consumed, the more the society remains at a constant number.
A quote that made me put that into context was, “Don’t be an idiot. Can’t you see they’re controlling us? If we eat each other, they control overpopulation, poverty, crime. Do you want me to keep going? I mean, it’s obvious.” This dystopian perspective of controlling the population via cannibalism is unique and never heard of in novels.
Another key perspective this novel made me realise is how fast food restaurants have a connection with how the food is being bred. Most fast food restaurants experiment with animals and raise them in inhumane ways, for it to be sold at higher rates than ever. At restaurants we get fed chicken nuggets in odd shapes and just a mush of chicken goo.
In this novel’s society, ‘reject’ humans are bred for consumption, and the reasons why they may be rejected are unclear, with the same process of the ‘meat’ taking nine months to be born. It has very animalistic tendencies where it is bred over and over again for gain.
Overall, the reading experience of this novel was the best I have ever had. As much as I was grossed out thinking about a human eating another human, I could not put the novel down. It felt weird reading about how tender human flesh is.