(Argentina, 1974) won the important Premio Clarín Novela in 2017 for her second novel, Cadáver Exquisito (translated into English as Tender Is the Flesh). The jury unanimously chose her book from 494 submitted manuscripts. It's a dystopian novel about Marcos Tejo, manager of a large meat-processing plant at a time when animal flesh is unfit for consumption because of a virus. He's one of few people who can recall that meat once came from cows, pigs and poultry. Marcos grieves for his dead son and the departure of his wife, cares for his sick father and is almost on a war footing with his sister. The day comes when he receives a living gift from a meat supplier. Tender Is the Flesh is about grief and dehumanization and offers surprisingly credible and gruesome solutions to pressing global problems. Bazterrica's novel paints a mercilessly critical and chilling picture of a morally bankrupt society.
Archive available for: Agustina Bazterrica
Magnificent literary nightmares from Latin America - with Pola Oloixarac, Agustina Bazterrica, Yentl van Stokkum & Elfie Tromp (moderator)
Dreamy jungle villages, the mysterious mazes of Borges and the tender poetry of Pablo Neruda - that is how we know "traditional" Latin-American literature. But in recent years a new generation of (primarily) female writers has emerged that requires a different, darker imagery to describe its (political) realities. In the new, encroaching magic realism of these authors, you won't find dreamy mazes but ghosts, voodoo, blood and horror. Gothic and horror elements are used by these writeres to strengthen stories and drag readers into the depths. What does this genre offer writers, and how does it affect readers?
During this event, we talked to writers who bring nightmares to life in brilliant, literary ways. Argentinian authors Pola Oloixarac and Agustina Bazterrica are invited. Oloixarac's work sketches a reality that doesn't quite make sense with subtle, eerie imagery, and in her book Tender Is the Flesh, Bazterrica depicts a blood-curdling world in which cannibalism has become the norm. Writer and poet Yentl van Stokkum wrote a haunted summer poem especially for this event and performed it live. Author and enthusiastic horror fan Elfie Tromp moderated the event. Walid Ben Selim, half of the musical duo N3rdistan, was also there: he and Pola Oloixarac brought a musical performance.
Not familiar with the work of these two Argentinian literary sharpshooters? Some reading tips for those who want to familiarize themselves:
- Mona by Pola Oloixarac
- Savage Theories by Pola Oloixarac
- Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac
- Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica
A Book to Call Home - Chris Keulemans interviewed Agustina Bazterrica
Following up on the festival theme Whose House is This?, in A Book to Come Home to we asked one festival author the following question: which book brought you home? The answers could go in all directions. Perhaps the author chose a book that describes a house that feels like his/her own home, or a place where he/she wishes to live. But it could also be a book whose style of writing or manner of thinking makes the author feel at home. Or it could be the relief of finally reading a story in which the protagonist reflects his/her appearance. The program was a peek into the bookshelves as well as the soul of each author.
Women, meat and women's flesh - with Agustina Bazterrica, Roanne van Voorst, Elianne van Elderen and Gwen Stok
What is the connection between women's bodies and flesh? Both are widely objectified - in advertising, film and language use. Is there also, then, a possible link between the consumption of meat and the objectification of the female body? Argentinian author Agustina Bazterrica and Dutch anthropologiest and writer Roanne van Voorst have both written highly intriguing books about this connection. During Meat:Woman they discussed this with each other.
Agustina Bazterrica makes the connection between woman and meat in her novel Tender is the Flesh. In a dystopian Argentina, cannibalism is legal and people eat their fellows - those that are least visible, anyway. Roanne van Vorst wrote Ooit aten we dieren (Once Upon a Time We Ate Animals), an investigation into the future of food that's a must-read for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters; in Van Voorst's future, we no longer eat any meat at all. Two totally different narratives, yet we'll discover whether the authors are perhaps driven by the same impulse.
Commissioned by Winternachten Festival, new talent Elianne van Elderen got inspired by the work of illustrator Gwen Stok, who made three extra drawings with reference to Bazterrica's work.
Want to get in the mood? Listen to the podcast Short guide to: Meat, in which programmer Joëlle Koorneef talks to Ruth Ozeki, the Japanese-American author who has written about meat like no other. My Year of Meats is a humorous yet highly critical novel about the meat industry, among other subjets, which made a huge impact in 2000.