The Mars Room
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**SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2018**
**A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND CRITICS’ TOP BOOK OF 2018**
‘An unforgettable novel.’ DAILY TELEGRAPH
‘More knowing about prison life [than Orange Is The New Black]… so powerful.’ NEW YORK TIMES
‘One of America’s finest writers.’ VOGUE
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.
"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 * "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 * "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 * "Rachel Kushner's The Mars Room shows what happens when a smart writer gets truly serious. It is a necessary and compelling book, and this year's must read." -- Anne Enright "It's her best book yet, another big step forward. " -- Jonathan Franzen "Gritty, empathetic, finely rendered, no sugary toppings, and a lot of punches, none of them pulled." -- Margaret Atwood, on Twitter "This unflinching and immersive portrait of prison life is a worthy follow-up to The Flamethrowers... Kushner's prose fizzes as dangerously as the electric fence around Stanville, her observations spiky as barbed wire, her humour desert-sky dark... [The Mars Room] marks you like a tattoo." * Guardian * "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 * "A portrait of contemporary America from one of the literary world's most exciting emerging writers." * Evening Standard * "Manages to be a novel with its own worldview and its own textures, as much as a chronicle of a system that holds more prisoners per head of population than any other country in the world." -- Colm Toibin "Ambitious, astute, serious and profound, The Mars Room catapults Kushner into the American major league, along with Jonathan Franzen, Annie Proulx and Joyce Carol Oates." * iNews * "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." * New York Times * "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 "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 "Rachel Kushner's third, extraordinarily accomplished novel, The Mars Room, glows with... authentic hyper-detail... She succeeds beautifully." * Spectator * "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 * New York Times * "Urgent, terrifying and fascinating... Told with unswerving precision... Kushner is one of our most outstanding modern writers." * Stylist *
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