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The Mars Room

Narrated by: Rachel Kushner
Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
4 out of 5 stars (31 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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

2 of 2 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Genevieve
  • 15-01-2019

A story that will stay with me for a long time

Not for those who want the Disney version of a prisoner’s life. This slow moving, bittersweet story with complex, convincing characters and a strong sense of place allowed me to completely suspend disbelief. This story and its characters will stay in my mind for a long time. The author does a superb job with the narration too.

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  • Alejandra Diaz
  • 10-01-2019

great account of women's prison in America

Rachel K does a terrific job at depicting life in women's prisons, the alliances, injustice, new world order you must entered upon losing your freedom. it's also a good account of the sort of injustices that as women they have to deal with and how the justice system is just a recollection of other system failures that cut across people's lives.

definitely a must read.

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  • jeremy
  • 09-11-2018

Wow

I just wanted to write Wow, but it wouldn’t let me. I’m no literary critic, but I read and listen to loads. This wowed me.

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  • moo
  • 03-11-2018

Disappointed with the ending

I found it hard to follow this book at times because the author used the same voice for all of the characters so you didn't always know who she was talking about for a while when she changed who she was talking about.
I. Did enjoy the detail of the characters lives and thought the story built well but ended badly which was disappointing

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-09-2018

Excellent

Initial struggle with the narration but am glad I kept going. A richly descriptive tale of a life lived out of bounds.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-09-2018

A Life of Tough Breaks

An excellent novel. Neutral & nihilistic but funny and affecting too. Bittersweet yet fine ending.

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  • janien
  • 24-09-2018

A worthy man booker shortlist contender

Gutsy, sharp, real.

The author researched US prison life and it shows. Flawlessly presented by the author, my only gripe was it felt a bit long at times. Glad I didn’t abandon it as the ending was cracking. Overall a great read and worth hearing read by the author too.

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  • Lizzy h
  • 07-09-2018

narrative of the marginalised

I loved this novel because the female characters endured hopeless lives but survived. They are the people that people talk about but dont talk to. The novel exposes the discrimmination of US sentencing and the affect on people's lives.