The Mars Room - Rachel Kushner

Rachel Kushner

The Mars Room
2018, 338 pages

The Mars Room is the strip club where Romy Hall used to work as a lap dancer. She is now in Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility in California, serving two consecutive life sentences plus six years. Her seven-year-old son Jackson is staying with her mother. The events leading up to her incarceration are described in a series of flashbacks.
Through Romy’s eyes the reader learns about the rules of life inside and gets to know a wide range of characters: Conan, a woman who looks and behaves like a man; Betty LaFrance, who is on death row; Button Sanchez, who gives birth in prison; Doc, a dirty cop, and Gordon Hauser, who is hired to teach the prisoners literature.

The novel gives an interesting insight into the American prison system and although the main character has many shortcomings, the author has succeeded in making her quite appealing nonetheless.