Behind Bars

Med Rachel Kushner and Silje Bekeng-Flemmen

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Med Rachel Kushner and Silje Bekeng-Flemmen

Romy Hall is in prison for killing a man who followed and tormented her. She remembers life outside the prison walls, her rough childhood in San Francisco, her years working in a strip club, the years she had with her son Jackson.

Rachel Kushner is best known for her 2014 novel The Flamethrowers, set in New York’s art world, which was shortlisted for the National Book Award. In The Mars Room, her latest novel, she portrays Romy Hall’s white lower class life in the US.

The title The Mars Room refers to the strip club where the main character once worked. Life in prison is cold, but despite the trauma and violence the inmates live with, there is humanity: the inmates look out for each other and whittle dildos in the work room.

Kushner wrote the novel after thorough research in the American prison system. “Kushner’s subject is her country’s fall from grace. This is not the land of the free; no one has choices and everyone is guilty”, the Guardian wrote in their review. A critic’s favorite, the novel was also shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.

Meet Kushner in conversation with writer and journalist Silje Bekeng-Flemmen.

Litteraturhuset Wergeland English

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