The Mars Room : Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018 - Rachel Kushner

The Mars Room

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018

By: Rachel Kushner

Paperback | 16 April 2019

At a Glance


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From the author of internationally acclaimed The Flamethrowers – a fearless and heartbreaking novel about love, friendship and incarceration.


Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility. Outside is the world from which she has been permanently severed: the San Francisco of her youth, changed almost beyond recognition. The Mars Room strip club where she once gave lap dances for a living. And her seven-year-old son, Jackson, now in the care of Romy's estranged mother.

Inside is a new reality to adapt to: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive. The deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner details with humour and precision. Daily acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike. Allegiances formed over liquor brewed in socks, and stories shared through sewage pipes.

Romy sees the future stretch out ahead of her in a long, unwavering line - until news from outside brings a ferocious urgency to her existence, challenging her to escape her own destiny and culminating in a climax of almost unbearable intensity. Through Romy - and through a cast of astonishing characters populating TheMars Room - Rachel Kushner presents not just a bold and unsentimental panorama of life on the margins of contemporary America, but an excoriating attack on the prison-industrial complex.

About the Author

Rachel Kushner’s debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and a New York Times bestseller. Her follow-up novel, The Flamethrowers , was also a finalist for the National Book Award and received rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s and the Paris Review. She lives in Los Angeles.
Industry Reviews
It is an unforgettable novel, and leaves the reader in no doubt that Kushner is one of America's greatest living authors. * Daily Telegraph *
One of the greatest novels I have read in years. Her prior novel, The Flamethrowers, was expansive and thrilling, but this is richer and deeper, more ambitious in its moral vision... an exhilarating, always surprising read. * Irish Times *
When I finished reading The Mars Room, I immediately reread it because I didn't want to leave its world... The Mars Room teems with quick and distinctive voices. -- Max Liu * Financial Times *
Cements [Kushner's] status as one of America's finest writers. * Vogue, **Must-Read Books of 2018** *
I've been bowled over by Rachel Kushner's The Mars Room [about life in a women's prison]. It's astounding - very difficult to read but so beautifully done, and with such knowledge, although it doesn't feel like a "researched" book. -- Anne Tyler * Observer *

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