Of Cattle and Men by Ana Paula Maia and translated by Zoë Perry

Of Cattle and Men

Ana Paula Maia and translated by Zoë Perry

A sparse and brutal read with an almost biblical sense of allegory. We are immersed, gut-deep, in the bloody reality of a slaughterhouse. We smell and sweat, kill and emote with the workers. The story that emerges is one of mystery - as cattle begin to behave strangely, the workers attempt to understand why. But this read is more one of sensory experience than plotting: it's as short and powerful as a stun-gun, but not without tenderness.


His precision is a rare talent that bears a preternatural knowledge for handling ruminants. If the blow to the forehead is too powerful, the animal dies, and the meat will toughen. If an animal feels fear, the pH level of its blood rises, which makes the meat taste bad. Some slaughtermen don't care. Edgar Wilson prays for the salvation of the soul of each animal he slaughters and puts it to sleep before its throat is slit. He's not proud of what he does, but if someone has to do it, then let it be him, who has pity on those irrational beasts.

  • The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  • All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy