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The book’s namesake, the Mars Room, is “not a middling or mediocre strip club but definitely the worst and most notorious, the very seediest and most circuslike place there is,” divulges 29-year-old Romy, who stripped there before murdering her stalker. Two-time National Book Award–finalist Kushner casts her interrogative eye toward the California women’s penal system in this psychologically hectic novel. Informed by years of visits to the Central California Women’s Facility (the largest women’s prison in the world) and calling upon the experiences of her incarcerated friends, Kushner’s narrative radiates alarm and is especially invested in telling the whole and complex stories of women who are largely erased from society.


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