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Publisher's Summary

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. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the "Transition". Now, eating human meat - "special meat" - is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.

Then one day he's given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. Though he's aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost - and what might still be saved.

©2017 Agustina Bazterrica. English language translation ©2020 Pushkin Press Limited. Originally published in Argentina in 2017 by Alfaguara as Cadáver Exquisito. All rights reserved. (P)2020 Audible, Ltd. All rights reserved.

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What listeners say about Tender Is the Flesh

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  • Overall
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Uhhhhhhh....

I don't even know what to say. Well written. The story draws you in. The ending is almost Shakespearean in nature. A disturbingly honest commentary on human nature. Horrific in its possible accuracy.

10 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

Overhyped. Would not recommend

I was looking for a short book that would hold my attention. This book was hyped on social media and said to be extremely disturbing to some. And maybe it is if you are new to this genre. However, I found this book to be really flat. No personality to it. The scenes that were meant to be graphic, were just crass. I would not recommend to anyone. Waste of an audible credit in my opinion.

6 people found this helpful

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Interesting idea but ultimately left me hungry

It’s an intriguing if not disturbing idea for a novel. Unfortunately, this should have been a short story of a larger collection.

5 people found this helpful

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An exquisite (albeit terrifying) read

This was a masterful book. I think it is easy to fall into a trap with a book so brutal, that the violence becomes THE point of the plot, rather than a necessary tool to make a much more sophisticated observation. Yes, you need to have some steel nerves to go through the depictions of violence, however I think it is most definitely worth it...

The book makes you think and it makes you feel a LOT of very, very uncomfortable things. I am awed, disturbed, and fascinated with the horrible, yet eerily tangible vision the author created for us.

Also, I cannot understand how someone could NOT appreciate the ending of this book. I think it was spectacular - very well executed and oh so perfect in strengthening the main point.

5 people found this helpful

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Torture Porn with no great plot - hard pass

I finished this book and was so angry that I struggled through all of the awful human torture writing only to be let down by an unsatisfactory ending after a predictable and not at all interesting plot. So not worth it. Listened to it at 1.5 speed and it still seemed too slow.

4 people found this helpful

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oh mah gah

Holy moly. I did not see that coming... that is all I have to say.

2 people found this helpful

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A horror masterpiece

“Necro-capitalism” was a term I first learned in 2020, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a way of looking at how capitalism organizes segments of the population in ways that result in some groups of workers being exposed to extreme dangers and even death as a routine part of the production process. In 2020, one of the groups who were most vulnerable to disease and death were slaughterhouse workers. A predominately immigrant workforce, their status makes them vulnerable to the whims of highly exploitative employers who are often able to deploy one of our country’s most racist police forces—ICE—to keep the workers in line. These multi-billion dollar companies are supported by the politicians whose campaigns they fund and the civil society groups they finance. The deaths of slaughterhouse workers, like those of the animals they carve up and process for grocery chains everywhere, is facilitated by a larger, systemic indifference to their plight. Their deaths are just the cost of doing business.

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica is a masterpiece that exposes the grotesque horror of necro-capitalism and the banalities of social convention that sustain it. It is the most disturbing work of fiction I have ever read.

In the near future, an alleged pandemic has stricken livestock and rendered their meat inedible. But market forces are quick to adapt as human beings are transformed into product, heads, protein, meat, livestock—all the euphemisms used by the current factory farm system take on much greater weight as humans are raised by breeders and sent to processing plants, their skins sent to tanneries, their carcasses sent to butchers, and the organic non-GMO varieties are provided to research laboratories and game reserves to be hunted.

The story of this great transformation towards the normalization of cannibalism is told from the point of view of Marcos, a deeply depressed manager at one of Bolivia’s most reputable “special meat” processing plants. Marcos leads readers through this world in graphic detail as he wrestles with the hypocrisy and hideousness of everything around, an empathetic sympathy brought on by the death of his own newborn.

Marcos seems on track for suicide when one of his suppliers sends him a special gift—an organic young woman for him to with as he pleases. Eat her, breed her, sell her. The choice is his. But from his own place of profound brokenness, a taboo and illegal kind of kinship starts to emerge between Marcos and his property. But what kind of fragile solidarity can be maintained in a world based on such morbid values?

This story deftly exposes the horrific cruelty and hypocrisy that many of us take for granted in our current factory farm system. It also demonstrates how depersonalization is a natural outgrowth of reducing life and choices to market relations. Gender violence, human trafficking, and poverty are all seen as outgrowths of a monstrous system that turns us all into monsters by cultivating an indifference within us to the suffering of others, whether they are pigs, cows, factory workers, the desperately poor or women.

Language is a big part of this story. The humans raised as livestock have their vocal cords removed so they cannot speak. The words used to separate the humans raised for livestock from the ones who purchase and cook it have real weight in the world. To refer to livestock as human or treat it as such can lead to severe punishment from the authorities—including being sent to the municipal processing plant.

This is a book with a message that resonates all the more powerfully in our current moment, when a million people have died of COVID in our own country and the collective response organized by the employer class is to shrug and force everyone back to work.

Through the power of allegory and painstaking, grotesque detail, this story unflinchingly strips off the layers of social convention that hide real evils being perpetuated everywhere, all the time. What makes everyone complicit in this system is their collective silence. If overthrowing necro-capitalism is ever going to be possible, it starts with speaking up.

1 person found this helpful

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wow

I went into this book with just the knowledge that it's hyped and all over YouTube and Ticktock. So much to say but I'll leave it at this: social commentary ☑️
psychology horror ☑️
made me legit tear up ☑️
intrigue ☑️

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting

The narrator did a great job, overall story was interesting but maybe I listen to too many horror stories I am a boy desensitized

1 person found this helpful

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Wow

This book tells everything is extreme detail, to the point where my stomach rolled. It was a very well written read and the ending left me in shock with goosebumps and tears. Highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful