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The Mars Room

Narrated by: Rachel Kushner
Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
4 out of 5 stars (42 ratings)
Non-member price: $30.38
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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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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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  • 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.

2 of 2 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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  • 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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  • 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.

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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

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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!

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  • Brid
  • 12-02-2019

spellbinding book - I couldn't stop listening.

Beautifully written and narrated. Normally with aaudiobooks, even ones I've loved, it takes me a few chapters to get into the rhythm of it but I fell into step with this book right from the start, thanks to the lyrical writing perfectly complimented by the author's narration. The subject matter is bleak but there is humour too and beauty amidst the bleakness.

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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.