May 2018 Indie Next List
“Rachel Kushner writes some seriously smart and gorgeous prose, so when she headed to prison in The Mars Room, I went. It is dark. It is painful. At times, the level of detail in the book and its fabulously invented and drawn characters make it feel like a documentary. We are struggling with so many social justice issues across the country right now it is overwhelming, and I worried that The Mars Room would push me over the edge. Instead, I couldn't stop reading. What really happened? Who is to blame? How will things turn out? How can we make things better? Ultimately, Kushner's great success is profoundly illustrating a very simple message: It's complicated.”
— Sara Hinckley, Hudson Booksellers, Marietta, GA
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.