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The Mars Room

Narrated by: Rachel Kushner
Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
4 out of 5 stars (62 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of The Mars Room, written and read by Rachel Kushner. 

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018.

The New York Times best seller.

Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility. Outside is the world from which she has been permanently severed: the San Francisco of her youth, changed almost beyond recognition. The Mars Room strip club where she once gave lap dances for a living. And her seven-year-old son, Jackson, now in the care of Romy’s estranged mother. 

Inside is a new reality to adapt to: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive. The deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner details with humour and precision. Daily acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike. Allegiances formed over liquor brewed in socks, and stories shared through sewage pipes. 

Romy sees the future stretch out ahead of her in a long, unwavering line - until news from outside brings a ferocious urgency to her existence, challenging her to escape her own destiny and culminating in a climax of almost unbearable intensity. Through Romy - and through a cast of astonishing characters populating The Mars Room - Rachel Kushner presents not just a bold and unsentimental panorama of life on the margins of contemporary America but an excoriating attack on the prison-industrial complex. 

©2018 Rachel Kushner (P)2018 Random House Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"An unforgettable novel." (Daily Telegraph)

"More knowing about prison life [than Orange Is the New Black]... so powerful." (New York Times)

"One of America's finest writers." (Vogue)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • dr
  • 17-06-2019

gritty great read

as usual superb production.
but hard hitting and bleak novel
author's narration excellent
highly recommended

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great book

I really loved this book and the narrator was great. I wasn't ready for it to end!

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It’s was ok.

This book came highly recommended in a book review and I have to say, I wasn’t overly impressed. It was an ok little story, I stuck it out to the end, but I would be hard pressed to recommend it to anyone.

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struggled to finish

I really struggled to finish this. we knew what the outcome was so going into the details that much and back and forth made me start to lose interest

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excellent though imperfect.

superb book written with restraint, candour and heart. The author's narration is wonderful, an honour to have her read her work.

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Pity or blame

Rachel Kushner gives you an insight into the world of women - women who commit crimes - some unspeakable. Women who are incarcerated or on death row and yet the brutality of the system that these woman enter is awful. They don't stand a chance in life and American culture and "justice" receives a lambasting. I still felt pity for "Romy" and for others in that prison. The different narrators also provided insights and perspectives. My only small criticism is that the reader had a very flat and at times monotonous voice that possible did not suit all of the subjects. I would recommend this book - I for one always like to read about experiences I would never enter and the book always held my interest and I found it fascinating.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Alexandra.F
  • 28-08-2018

Amazing...

This book really blew me away, so much so i was compelled to write a review for once!
The prose is so beautiful in places, and quirky too in a way which reminded me of Chuck Phalanuick's "Invisible Monsters". This goes way beyond "orange is the new black"; this is some deep stuff. It's an insight into the real lives and minds of women (and men too) it feels so tangible i was sad to not be hearing any more from the protagonist when the book was done!
There's not alot to be said without giving much away, but it ended in a way which i had really not anticipated, it was poignant and beautiful and made so much sense in retrospect. I'd imagine that most people would get something from this book; the characters are so excellently drawn, the stories are painted beautifully, each relating to the other characters plot lines. Give it a go, it's really something special.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • fjonny
  • 28-03-2019

Deeply upsetting and marvelous

Enjoyed is not the right word. it's a great book but disturbing to read. nevertheless I recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • S
  • 08-03-2019

Extremely hard to listen to, sounds like siri

I'm sure the book is great but I had to turn it off a few minutes in, could not stand the narrator's voice, so unnatural! sounds like siri is reading to me

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • JST
  • 06-03-2019

Gripping Story.

This is such an incredible story and had me gripped from the start. 'Romy' was totally believable, all the characters are well written and rounded and I could picture them all. It's not a 'jolly' read, but then it's not a 'jolly' subject matter, it's gritty and dirty and desperate and thought provoking.
I really liked Rachel Kushner's style of narration, it's unhurried and reels you in beautifully and I completely get why she would narrate her own story, as I don't think anyone else could have done it justice.
10/10 from me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Solveig Taylor
  • 12-11-2018

Thoroughly depressing

Good, I suppose. Colorful characters, a glimse into a world I cannot believe. Inhuman and thoroughly depressing. After reading this book, I'd rather not visit San Francisco. I guess it is important that these stories are told. It was just too sad for my weekend read, and not quite what I had expected. I think I expected something a bit more Dickensian. Some humour in it all. It was just naturalism all the way.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • al
  • 02-10-2019

So glad that's over!

There are some books that really benefit from the author narrating. This is not one of them. I couldn't tell if the book was actually boring or if the narration made it sound that way but there's no way I'm going back to the written word to find out. This book was part of my book challenge so I had to finish it but I won't be able to recommend it to anyone.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-09-2019

Not enough plot for me

As I am already familiar with the injustices of the US prison system I wasn't that interested in those details in themselves, so without much of a plot was left feeling that this was just a bit dull. I'm not sure if it helped that the author, who is not a professional vocal narrator for a reason, was allowed to narrate it with her monotone voice.

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  • Mia
  • 21-05-2019

A better read than a listen

I've been wanting to read the book for ages, so was very much looking forward to having the audio version for my commute. The story weaves around different characters but keeps its focus very much on the protagonist, Romy. It was a heartbreaking story at times, highlighting all the flaws of the US justice system.

But I just couldn't get over the narration (narrated by the author). She sounded like she was the one doped up, with little blue birds flying around her head. Her performance just did not hold my attention and I found myself drifting in and out of concentration. There was barely any distinguishing between character voices... just her continuous slow monotone whispery drawl. Buy a hardcopy instead.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-04-2019

Believe the hype

I came to this novel after The Mars Room appeared on many 'best of' fiction lists of 2018. I absolutely loved it. I was shocked to find at conclusion that Rachel herself read this - the narration was so good I assumed it was an actor. This is a deeply absorbing novel that I never wanted to end. Can't believe it didn't win the booker!

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  • jackie
  • 14-02-2019

outstanding!

this novel was outstandingly good..well written, great story, realistic and I loved the narration by the author. Sad it's finished!