Tender is the Flesh

Agustina Bazterrica


An infectious virus that initially spreads among animals proves deadly to humans, turning the world into a grey, cynical and inhospitable place.

It happened all so quickly. First, it was reported that all animal meat was poisonous. Then, governments initiated the “Transition”. Now, eating human meat — “special meat”— is legal.

Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans: though no one calls them that anymore. His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living, but even so h plays the part of a dark burocrat.

When one day he’s given the gift of a live specimen of the finest quality, temptations transform him into a dangerous conscience. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he begins to transgress the new norms to limits unknown to society.

This is an important, powerful novel depicting a nightmarish future in which cannibalism has become legitimate across most of the world. This is a pitiless dystopia; as brutal as it is subtle, as allegorical as it is realist.

The New York Times Review

The Guardian Review

Words Without Borders Review

Kirkus Review

Clarín Article

The Washington Post: best science fiction, fantasy and horror books of 2020

Darkside. Interview

The Guardian. Interview

"Horribly effective... This provocative novel expertly wields a double-edged cleaver..."

The Guardian


"From the first words of the Argentine novelist Agustina Bazterrica's second novel, "Tender Is the Flesh," the reader is already the livestock in the line, reeling, primordially aware that this book is a butcher's block, and nothing that happens next is going to be pretty."

New York Times Book Review


"Taut and thought-provoking...a chilling and alarmingly prophetic book...this is an urgent cautionary tale...timely, crucial."
Words Without Border


"It is a testament to Bazterrica's skill that such a bleak book can also be a page-turner. An unrelentingly dark and disquieting look at the way societies conform to committing atrocities."
Kirkus Reviews


"This book will pull you in, take hold, and not let go until you reach the final page-perhaps far longer than that. Without a doubt, my favorite read of this year." 

Christina Dalcher, author of Vox

  "At what price is a world without animals viable? That's the question posted by Argentinian author Agustina Bazterrica.... With an artfulness perfectly calibrated with irony, [she] presents an astounding portrait of a humanity ready to do anything to satisfy itself, even at its own expense.

Le Monde


"Heiress to Orwell, the Argentinian author deploys a voice as vivid as it is chilling. In an increasingly dehumanized world, she pushes us to a dizzying reflection on violence, love, [and] power.

Livres Hebdo  


"A biting and uncompromising expression of what happens daily in our society."

La Nación


"A major novel, whose action takes place inside a dense and hypnotic atmosphere in which the reader is trapped from the first lines as if he were one of its characters."

Juan José Millás


"With a direct and stripped-down language, Tender is the Flesh delves into the sinister mechanisms of a dystopian and cannibalistic society. The images, both repulsive and fascinating, are at times reminiscent of Francis Bacon's violent paintings. The novel surrounds the reader with a sense of menace by making visible some dark and normalized practices of current life."

Pedro Mairal


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