The Mars Room
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Gritty, empathetic, finely rendered, no sugary toppings, and a lot of punches, none of them pulled." --Margaret Atwood via Twitter
"A page turner... one of those books that enrage you even as they break your heart." --The New York Times Book Review (cover review)
"Brilliant and devastating... a heartbreaking, true, and nearly flawless novel." --NPR
"With her richly textured third novel, Kushner certifies her place as one of the great American novelists of the 21st century." --Entertainment Weekly
From twice National Book Award-nominated Rachel Kushner, whose Flamethrowers was called "the best, most brazen, most interesting book of the year" (Kathryn Schulz, New York magazine), comes a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America.
It's 2003 and Romy Hall 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: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. 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, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.
Stunning and unsentimental, The Mars Room demonstrates new levels of mastery and depth in Kushner's work. It is audacious and tragic, propulsive and yet beautifully refined. As James Wood said in The New Yorker, her fiction "succeeds because it is so full of vibrantly different stories and histories, all of them particular, all of them brilliantly alive."
"The Mars Room is mysterious and irreducible. The writing is beautiful -- from hard precision to lyrical imagery, with a flawless feel for when to soar and when to pull back." * Dana Spiotta * "The Mars Room is uniquely informed ... empathetic. An addictive novel, laced throughout with bracing intelligence." * Joshua Ferris * "It's her best book yet, another big step forward. " * Jonathan Franzen *
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.