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The Mars Room
2018
Availability
Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Romy Hall (Female), Exotic dancer, Mother, Serving two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women¿s Correctional Facility; has a young son named Jackson
Genre
Fiction
Crime
Literary
Mystery
Suspense
Topics
Young women
Murder
Prison life
Women prisoners
Violence
Survival
Setting
California - West (U.S.)
Time Period
2003 -- 21st century
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Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

Two-time National Book Award finalist Kushner (The Flamethrowers) delivers a heartbreaking and unforgettable novel set in a California women's prison. Single mother Romy Leslie Hall is serving two consecutive life sentences at the Stanville Women's Correctional Facility after murdering a stalker. From prison, she narrates her drug-addled, hard-bitten past in San Francisco, where she worked as a stripper at the legendary Mars Room, as well as her present, where she serves her sentence alongside inmates such as Conan (so masculine as to have been mistakenly sent to a men's prison), the heavy metal-loving white supremacist known as the Norse, and loquacious baby-killer Laura Lipp. Readers slowly learn the circumstances of Romy's conviction, and eventually glean a composite portrait of the justice system, including the story of Gordon Hauser, a well-meaning but naive English teacher assigned to Stanville, and a dirty LAPD cop, "Doc," who serves out a parallel sentence in the Sensitive Needs block of New Folsom Prison. But the focus is on the routine at Stanville, where Romy pines for her son, reads the books recommended to her by Gordon, recalls her past life in vivid and excruciating detail, and plans a daring escape. Kushner excels at capturing the minutiae of life behind bars, and manages to critique the justice system and vividly capture the reality of life behind bars. Romy is a remarkable protagonist; her guilt is never in question, but her choices are understandable. Kushner's novel is notable for its holistic depiction of who gets wrapped up in incarceration-families, lawyers, police, and prisoners; it deserves to be read with the same level of pathos, love, and humanity with which it clearly was written. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House. (May) This review has been corrected; an earlier version stated a character was on death row. © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER <br> <br> "Electrifying." -- Vanity Fair <br> <br> "A page turner... The Mars Room is one of those books that enrage you even as they break your heart." -- The New York Times Book Review (cover review) <br> <br> "Brilliant and devastating... The Mars Room is a heartbreaking, true, and nearly flawless novel." -- NPR <br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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."
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