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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 listeners say about The Mars Room

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  • A.J.F
  • 08-28-18

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 people found this helpful

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  • fjonny
  • 03-28-19

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
  • 03-08-19

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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  • JST
  • 03-06-19

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.

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  • Solveig Taylor
  • 11-12-18

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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-20-22

Brilliant!

I love the story and I love the author’s voice on narration. Bit like Hemingway for our times

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-31-20

Important story but did not enjoy narration

I think the story was important and well told. I am wondering if I would have enjoyed this more as a book rather than audio-book. The narration, which I had high hopes for because of it being read by the author, did not work for me, probably a preference thing.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-02-20

Poetic

Beautifully written. Perfectly read. Captivating story. Interesting characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this listen. Bonus is the music by Kim Gordon.

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  • al
  • 10-02-19

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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  • Alex Marsh
  • 09-17-19

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-21-21

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read

The first hour or two of this book is especially great, it’s both so real and unreal in the way life is, and the way memories are. I keep coming back to this book to listen to those first two hours again, and then I’m gripped to the story so that finishing it is inevitable - just as I was the first time around.

My praise for the first parts shouldn’t make you think the rest is not as good, the entire book is amazing, the first half just hits a particular nostalgic feeling in me personally

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  • dr
  • 06-17-19

gritty great read

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

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-24-19

great book

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

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-19-18

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-03-18

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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  • Ananth
  • 10-21-18

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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  • Layla Sacker
  • 08-18-18

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.

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