The Mars Room

A Novel

The Mars Room

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.”

“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

“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
  • Scribner | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781982100759 | 
  • May 2018
List Price $24.99 (price may vary by retailer)

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Mars Room includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

From twice National Book Award–nominated Rachel Kushner 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. Unflinching, electric, and deeply empathetic, The Mars Room is a masterful meditation on what in people is breakable, what is unbreakable, as well as the existential meanings of class, and criminality, and the impossibility of forgiveness in our prison system.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. At the beginni see more

More Books from this Author

The Flamethrowers
Telex from Cuba

About the Author

Rachel Kushner
Photo credit Lucy Raven 2012

Rachel Kushner

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. Her latest novel is The Mars Room. She lives in Los Angeles.

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