Called “electrifying” by Vanity Fair, “a page turner” by The New York Times Book Review, and “brilliant and devastating” by NPR, The Mars Room is the August book club selection by twice National Book Award-nominated Rachel Kushner (The Flamethrowers, Telex from Cuba). The novel is a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping story about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America. This powerful and revealing novel about a mother and former lap dancer incarcerated for murder in a women’s prison has been called Dickensian in its amplitude and reformist zeal. To facilitate this discussion is Yvette McGee Brown, the first African-American female justice on the Ohio Supreme Court, former judge on the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, founding president of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and, currently, the firm-wide Partner-in-Charge of Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement at the law firm of Jones Day.
It's 2003 and 29-year-old Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility, deep in California's Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.