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20 Disturbing Books Like “Tender Is the Flesh” for Fans of Dark Narratives

Explore Grim Futures With These Books Similar to "Tender Is the Flesh"
by The Blinkist Team | Apr 19 2024
Explore Dark Dystopias: 20 Books Like Tender Is the Flesh

Agustina Bazterrica’s novel, “Tender Is the Flesh,” is set in a dystopian future where cannibalism is legal and normalized in response to animal meat contamination worldwide. The novel is a chilling narrative that compels readers to confront uneasy questions about ethics, power, and the essence of humanity.

If you have read and enjoyed Bazterrica’s book and are searching for similar books that combine a harrowing plot with societal critiques, this list is perfect for you. Here are 20 books that, like “Tender Is the Flesh,” will immerse you in worlds that are as dark as they are thought-provoking.

Top 20 best books to read if you liked “Tender Is the Flesh” by Agustina Bazterrica


1. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

A father and his son journey through a post-apocalyptic world, showcasing the lengths one will go to survive.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • A bleak, dystopian setting.
  • Exploration of the depths of human depravity.
  • A focus on survival in a merciless world.


2. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Children at a secluded boarding school gradually uncover the grim truth of their existence and fate.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • Ethical quandaries surrounding the treatment of humans.
  • A dystopian world with dark societal norms.
  • Themes of humanity and commodification.


3. “Oryx and Crake” by Margaret Atwood

A speculative fiction that delves into genetic engineering, corporate dominance, and the ethics of human experimentation.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • A dystopian future where societal norms are upended.
  • Critique of human exploitation and environmental degradation.
  • The normalization of disturbing practices.


4. “The Girl With All the Gifts” by M.R. Carey

In a world ravaged by a fungal infection turning people into “hungries,” a unique girl might hold the key to understanding the disease.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • Morally complex characters navigating a post-apocalyptic world.
  • Questions about what it means to be human.
  • A blend of horror and speculative fiction elements.


5. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

A theocratic regime subjects women to subjugation and servitude in this iconic dystopian novel.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • A societal critique through a dystopian lens.
  • Themes of bodily autonomy and commodification.
  • The disturbing normalization of oppressive practices.


6. “Blindness” by José Saramago

An epidemic of blindness sweeps through a city, leading to the collapse of society and the emergence of primal survival instincts.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • Depiction of society’s disintegration and humanity’s dark side.
  • Ethical dilemmas in a lawless, dystopian setting.
  • An exploration of survival, cruelty, and hope.


7. “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel

Survivors of a global pandemic navigate a devastated world, striving to keep art and human connections alive.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • Post-apocalyptic survival story.
  • Deep reflections on civilization, art, and humanity.
  • The search for meaning in a bleak, changed world.


8. “Battle Royale” by Koushun Takami

Students are forced into a government-sponsored death match, highlighting the brutality humans are capable of.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • A dystopian society that condones violence.
  • Themes of dehumanization and survival.
  • A critique of societal violence and desensitization.


9. “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang

A woman’s decision to stop eating meat has profound effects on her life and relationships, exploring themes of rebellion, desire, and societal norms.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • The commodification of bodies and autonomy.
  • Dark, unsettling mood and societal critique.
  • Exploration of non-normative behaviors and their impact.


10. “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler

In a future America where society has collapsed, a young woman develops a new belief system, Earthseed, to restore humanity.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • A dystopian setting with societal breakdown.
  • Themes of survival, humanity, and the construction of a new social order.
  • A critique of environmental destruction and societal inequality.


11. “The Circle” by Dave Eggers

A young woman navigates the dangerous waters of working for a tech company with the ambition to monopolize global information and privacy.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • The exploration of ethical boundaries in a near-future setting.
  • Societal critique focusing on surveillance and freedom.
  • The dark side of technological and corporate dominance.


12. “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Set in a futuristic totalitarian state, “We” explores the suppression of individuality and freedom in favor of a supposedly utopian collective life.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • The dehumanization and control of individuals by the state.
  • A dystopian society with strict norms and surveillance.
  • Rebellion against oppressive societal structures.


13. “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis

Through the eyes of a Wall Street yuppie who is also a serial killer, this novel explores the vapidity and cruelty of consumer culture.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • A critique of societal norms and materialism.
  • Dark and gory exploration of human depravity.
  • Satirical take on dehumanization and alienation in modern society.


14. “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess

A violent youth in a dystopian future faces the state’s brutal attempts at reform, questioning the nature of free will and morality.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • The use of disturbing imagery to critique societal trends.
  • Themes of control, violence, and individual vs. societal rights.
  • A dystopian society grappling with the ethics of behavior modification.


15. “The Children of Men” by P.D. James

In a future where humanity faces extinction due to infertility, political upheaval and personal sacrifice come to the forefront.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • Dystopian setting centered around a unique crisis.
  • Exploration of power, survival, and the human condition.
  • The societal implications of a radically changed world.


16. “The Road Through the Wall” by Shirley Jackson

A piercing look at the dark underbelly of suburban American life, where the outward veneer of perfection masks sinister truths.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • The exploration of societal facades and the darkness within.
  • Themes of conformity and the brutality lurking in ordinary settings.
  • Psychological depth in examining human behavior and norms.


17. “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison

A post-apocalyptic tale of a supercomputer that tortures the last remnants of humanity, exploring themes of power, control, and despair.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • A bleak, dystopian future with inhumane conditions.
  • The exploration of human suffering and survival.
  • Philosophical and ethical questions about existence and torment.


18. “In the Miso Soup” by Ryu Murakami

An exploration of the underbelly of Tokyo’s sex district through the eyes of a psychopathic American tourist reveals disturbing truths about society.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • Dark narrative exploring societal and personal ethics.
  • The blurring lines between normalcy and aberration.
  • Themes of exploitation and the human psyche.


19. “The Passage” by Justin Cronin

A government experiment gone wrong turns the world into a wasteland populated by vampire-like creatures, focusing on survival and humanity.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • Post-apocalyptic setting with humanity on the brink.
  • Themes of experimentation, survival, and the essence of humanity.
  • Exploration of society’s reconstruction in the face of despair.


20. “Piercing” by Ryu Murakami

An unsettling story of a man planning to murder his own daughter, exposing the dark undercurrents of the human mind.

Elements in common with “Tender Is the Flesh”:

  • A deeply psychological and disturbing narrative.
  • Exploration of dark desires and societal taboos.
  • A critique of modern societal norms and personal isolation.

If you found “Tender Is the Flesh” interesting and want to read more stories that explore the darker aspects of human society and behavior, this list has a range of options that will satisfy your desire for complex, thought-provoking, and unsettling narratives.

Each book offers its own unique perspective that challenges assumptions, probes ethical boundaries, and provides chilling glimpses into possible futures. Take a chance and delve into these grim realities to discover what lies beneath the surface of our world. Happy (or perhaps, haunting) reading!


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