RACHEL KUSHNER reads from her new novel THE MARS ROOM

The Mars Room (Scribner)

Dazzling and audacious, The Mars Room is the story of Romy Hall, a woman who struggles mightily to overcome her unblessed origins. She is courageous, and utterly without self-pity, but Romy—and the reader—soon discover that the game is rigged. She has the bad luck to encounter Kurt Kennedy, and learns that for a woman without resources, a certain kind of aggressive male attention can be a life sentence of its own kind: i.e., inescapable until someone dies. Romy does not die, but ends up in Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, where she triumphs at the low-stakes sport of ridiculing authority, does her best to survive, and tries desperately to guarantee for her young son a life outside the system she is condemned to.

The Mars Room is persuasive and heartbreaking, a serious reckoning with incarceration, inequality, contemporary doom, and what it means to be free. It is essential reading for the America we find ourselves in right now, and certain to endure. Kushner once again proves herself to be one of the finest novelists working today.

Praise for The Mars Room

“Kushner’s last novel, The Flamethrowers, crisply brought to life the radical art and politics of the 1970s through the eyes of a passive, albeit very observant female witness. The author’s roving political awareness will now alight on the American prison system — specifically the life of a California woman whose life has gone wildly astray, resulting in two consecutive life sentences. From another writer it might sound lurid or, worse, like homework. But Kushner’s writing and thinking are always invigorating, urgent, and painterly precise.”—Vulture

“Rachel Kushner's stunning new novel The Mars Room follows a woman, separated from her young son, who is serving two consecutive life sentences in a women’s correctional facility in California. A gorgeously written depiction of survival and the absurd and violent facets of life in prison.”—Buzzfeed

“This essential novel is about women ignored or denigrated or discounted in our society, and the adult men who obsess over them and abuse them and abet their self-destruction. Kushner is a bit of a magician, exploring bleak territory with pathos and urgency that makes it nearly impossible to stop reading.”—AM New York

“Kushner has twice been nominated for the National Book Award for Fiction — an impressive feat considering she has only published two novels to date. Her new book paints a probing portrait of contemporary America in its women’s correctional facility setting.”—Entertainment Weekly 

“Rachel Kushner's The Flamethrowers was one of the best books of 2013 and its predecessor, Telex from Cuba, earned the Los Angeles-based writer her first National Book Award nomination. Unlike Kushner's first two books, The Mars Room is set in 21st-century America, at a women's prison where Romy Hall is serving two life sentences. Kushner's writing is clipped and sharp, as she tells the story of Hall's adjustment to life behind bars — and how she got there.”—The Week

“Two-time National Book Award nominee Kushner (Flamethrowers) sets her latest book in 2003, when Romy Hall has just begun serving two consecutive life sentences. Flamethrowers was fearless; expect this one to be, too.”—BookPage

“In her first novel since 2013's National Book Award–nominated The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner tells the story of Romy Hall, a woman serving two consecutive life sentences in a California prison.”—Cosmopolitan

“Heartbreaking and unforgettable...remarkable...The Mars Room deserves to be read with the same level of pathos, love, and humanity with which it clearly was written.”—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
“A searing look at life on the margins…This is, fundamentally, a novel about poverty and how our structures of power do not work for the poor, and Kushner does not flinch.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Kushner is a masterful world-creator, and her accomplishment here is unparalleled.”—Nylon

Rachel Kushner is the bestselling author of The Flamethrowers, a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times Top Ten Book of 2013. Her first novel, Telex from Cuba was also a finalist for the National Book Award. She lives in Los Angeles.

Photo by Chloe Aftel

Event date: 
Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Mars Room: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476756554
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Scribner - May 1st, 2018

The Flamethrowers: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781439142011
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - January 14th, 2014

Telex from Cuba: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781416561040
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - June 2nd, 2009