Agustina Bazterrica: ‘Capitalism and cannibalism are almost the same’

Alice Kemp-Habib in The Guardian:

Every day, upon leaving her Catholic high school, Agustina Bazterrica and her friends were followed by the same predatory man who would aim “the most terrible words” in their direction. A different man once masturbated in front of her on a packed train. “No one did anything,” she recalls. Coupled with the epidemic of violence against women in her native Argentina – where 212 femicides were reported in 2022 – these early experiences nurtured the feeling that “because you are a woman, anything can happen to you at any time”.

This sense of ever-present threat permeates the author’s new short story collection, 19 Claws and a Black Bird, translated by Sarah Moses, which serves up a smörgåsbord of assault, murder and suicide. It follows Bazterrica’s second novel, Tender Is the Flesh, set in a world where cannibalism has been legalised after a virus renders animal meat unfit for human consumption. That novel laid bare the violence in everyday experiences of womanhood through visceral, often shocking prose: for example, a female “head” (the euphemistic word for human livestock) has her vocal cords removed to prevent her from screaming.