TIME’S #1 FICTION TITLE OF THE YEAR • NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018
FINALIST for the MAN BOOKER PRIZE and the NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
LONGLISTED for the ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL
An instant New York Times bestseller from two-time National Book Award finalist Rachel Kushner, The Mars Room earned tweets from Margaret Atwood—“gritty, empathic, finely rendered, no sugar toppings, and a lot of punches, none of them pulled”—and from Stephen King—“The Mars Room is the real deal, jarring, horrible, compassionate, funny.”
It’s 2003 and Romy Hall, named after a German actress, is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: her young son, Jackson, and the San Francisco of her youth. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, portrayed with great humor and precision.
Stunning and unsentimental, The Mars Room is “wholly authentic…profound…luminous” (The Wall Street Journal), “one of those books that enrage you even as they break your heart” (The New York Times Book Review, cover review)—a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America. It is audacious and tragic, propulsive and yet beautifully refined and “affirms Rachel Kushner as one of our best novelists” (Entertainment Weekly).
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The Mars Room hits like a hurricane: powerful, destructive, impossible to ignore. Rachel Kushner spent a lot of time behind bars to research her novel, talking to prisoners about their lives and using these conversations as a basis for her sprawling cast of characters, who exist on society's extreme margins. Their stories connect back to Romy Hall, a former stripper serving a life sentence for killing a man who stalked her; we slowly learn about Romy’s feral youth and the agony of losing her young son. Reading Kushner’s book isn’t easy, but it’s a gripping and eye-opening portrait of a staggeringly large population that’s often dehumanized and ignored.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This was a gripping novel that kept my attention throughout. The characters were deeply engaging and the story allowed us to explore all the intricate detail of their motivations and belief systems. I only wish there was more. Many thanks to the author.
The Mars Room
Wish I hadn’t spent the money. This book was all over the place.
A most excellent read
Offering a gritty look inside a world you never want to go The Mars Room makes one face life without hope, and weep. A novel about love and loss and no redemption. Well written and easy to read but difficult to shake.