This book finally came up on the Booker Group schedule and as promised, I’m re-reading it. My original reading was back in March. I really enjoyed reading Kushner’s prior novels but I’d put off reading this – no good reason. Anyway, here’s my review on this site. and links to Kushner’s other two novels
The book opens with Romy Hall, the main 1st person character, on a prison transport bus from a Los Angeles jail to the large women’s facility near Chowchilla. This is the only women’s prison in California for death row inmates but it’s renamed in the book. She’s not on death row herself, but she is serving two life sentences for murder. Her past includes many illegal activities from prostitution to drugs and so on. The book’s title comes from the bar she worked at in San Francisco prior to her big troubles.
The Mars Room
by Rachel Kushner
2018 / 352 pages
read by Rachel Kushner – 9h 41m
rating : 8.75 / contemp. fiction
Romy is only one of several characters with their own points of view – and Fernandez is another 1st prison. All these characters turn the prison into a fully fleshed out environment or maybe even “a character.” And sometimes characters who are from a prisoner’s past the past contribute to the character of the prison environment because those who are in prison bring them in via their thoughts and feelings – in actions and reactions. . It’s complicated.
The prison part of the book becomes like a frame in some places (a prison in a way) because real life took place in the past so much of the novel is backstory to give context to the present. Tthere is a plot which unfolds in the prison setting through. as well.
I wasn’t as impressed this site round although what I described above was a new insight to me. Maybe the shock value wore off – I don’t know.