The Mars Room (Hardback)Rachel Kushner (author)
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Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018
If you follow their rules, they make more rules. You have to fight people or you end up with nothing.
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 The Mars 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.
Vividly realised and utterly compelling, as the Spectator comments, Kushner ‘succeeds beautifully, rendering visible the sequences of injustice and exploitation that underpin our society, yet never losing sight of the individual lives those processes depend on and destroy’.
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 573 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 33 mm
'The Mars Room is an immersive reading experience, in a tradition of fiction drawing on American social history.' - The Guardian
'The Mars Room is a riotous display of the fictions people tell about themselves and others…' - The Financial Times
'It is an unforgettable novel, and leaves the reader in no doubt that Kushner is one of America's greatest living authors.' - The Daily Telegraph
'Cements [Kushner's] status as one of America's finest writers.' - Vogue
'If you haven't heard of Rachel Kushner yet, you soon will. The American novelist has earned comparisons to Jennifer Egan and Jonathan Franzen... [The Mars Room] makes for a compelling read. Imagine a darker version of Orange Is The New Black.' - Sunday Times Style
'Kushner is a young master. I honestly don't know how she is able to know so much and convey all of this in such a completely entertaining and mesmerizing way.' - George Saunders
'It's her best book yet, another big step forward.' - Jonathan Franzen
'A jail novel every bit as brutal as those of Edward Bunker or Stephen King... The prose is beautifully composed and the narrative never goes where you expect it. Kushner thinks herself startlingly well into the minds of warped men. The ending is stunning.' - Evening Standard
'You sense early in this novel that you're entering Mary Gaitskill, Denis Johnson and Charles Bukowski territory... Kushner offers a great, subversive portrait of... life inside the women's prison... grainy and persuasive.' - Dwight Garner, The New York Times
'Both more blackly comic and more knowing about prison life [than "Orange Is The New Black"]... It's one of those books that enrage you even as they break your heart... so powerful.' - Charles McGrath, The New York Times
'Rachel Kushner's third, extraordinarily accomplished novel, The Mars Room, glows with... authentic hyper-detail... She succeeds beautifully.' - Spectator
'Kushner is going to be one we turn to for our serious pleasures and for the insight and wisdom we'll be needing in hard times to come. She is a novelist of the very first order. ' - Robert Stone
'Urgent, terrifying and fascinating... Told with unswerving precision... Kushner is one of our most outstanding modern writers.' - Stylist
'[Kushner] uses the novel as a place to be flamboyant and funny, and to tell propulsive stories, but mainly as a capacious arena for thinking... Like [Don DeLillo], she is good at conjuring mayhem.' - Dana Goodyear, The New Yorker
'The Mars Room, Rachel Kushner's masterly new novel, infiltrates a California prison and the American criminal-justice system with breathtaking intimacy and propulsion.' - Vogue
'The Mars Room is so sensually convincing it leaves its imprint of steel mesh on your forehead, while its compassion embraces baby-killer and brutal cop alike in the merciless confines of the American justice system. An extraordinary literary achievement.' - Adam Thorpe
'The Mars Room is uniquely informed ... empathetic. An addictive novel, laced throughout with bracing intelligence.' - Joshua Ferris
'I had to brace myself as I did for Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life ... An unforgettable portrait of a life lived on the margins in contemporary America.' - Alice O'Keeffe, Bookseller, Editor's Choice
'The Mars Room offers a rare combination of admirably sure-footed sentences and a character and plot that made me stay up far too late. Romy's situation is unbearable, and almost unbearably realised, but the writing is so very good and the ideas so expertly handled that it's a great pleasure to read in all its devastation.' - Sarah Moss
'Written with the absorbing specificity and scope that have established Kushner as one of the most celebrated contemporary novelists in the country... A novel of great urgency and devastation.' - The Los Angeles Times
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This is an absolutely incredible book! I've never read anything by Rachel Kushner before, but now that I've experienced the beauty and brilliance of her writing I will be hunting down her entire backlist.... More
This book was absolutely fantastic!
Kushner writes with lucid intelligence and insight about female incarceration and the American legal system through her incredibly interesting and authentic cast of characters.
“Very insightful and brutally honest”
One I read out of my comfort zone, it was brutal, raw and desperately sad at times. There is no sugar coating the realistic view of a woman serving life in prison in California. Capturing her new daily life and people... More
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