Clearly this will not appeal to everyone.
As we ride out the early stages of a global viral pandemic it struck me as a good time to read a novel about a global viral pandemic.
This one infected animals so that their meat became poisonus. Consequently a global order was put out to kill ALL animals.
Then there was ‘The Transition.’
In a carnivorous world what meat will carnivores then eat when there is no ‘meat’?
Well, obviously they eat human meat, but not wanting to sound like cannibals the authorities do not allow the citizens to call human meat, ‘human meat’ – that’s punishable by death, and the sale of the resulting cadaver as ‘meat’.
So they are called ‘Heads’, have their vocal chords surgically removed just after birth so that they can’t talk/scream, and are raised to a variety of quality standards.
The hero of our novel is a slaughterhouse manager who is responsible for the buying of Heads and their processing, by way of slaughter.
But his life is complicated.
His beloved Dad is dying, his sister is horrible and leaves him to manage the care of their father, his wife has left him and his young son has died.
He’s lonely, he hates his job, his life and his family.
Then, one day, as a thank you for doing good business with a Head-seller he is given his own young, living, prime-grade female to take home and butcher.
This is an Argentinian novel and is quite heavily stylised, with little or no emotion – that’s left to the reader to take their own views on the proceedings, much of which describes this new, very odd and strangely acceptant society, in dispassionate terms.
It’s short, sharp and to the point and much of it is an allegory for how we consider the meat we consume today. In that respect it’s a great book for vegetarians/vegans to enjoy triumphantly.
The way Bazterrica describes the slaughtering and butchering process is exactly how our animal meat is processed today. Her trick is to anthropomorphize the process and, in so doing, begs the question as to whether this is morally acceptable. “You wouldn’t do it to humans…’ is the central tenet here, if not actually stated.
It’s clever. It’s interestingly, if a little coldly, written and it’s page turning.
It’s a really good political polemic and I found it engrossing. Much is made of societal mores – class, privelege, behaviour, tradition, sexual politics. It’s actually a pretty complex and multi-layered read.
I recommend it. (But only for those of a stout literary constitution.)