The Wheeler Centre
Rachel Kushner: The Mars Room
Ellena Savage and Rachel Kushner on stage — Photo: Scott Limbrick
‘This is a story that gets to the root of how my society is structured right now … There’s a way that prison is invisible to a middle-class person. It’s not a conspiracy, but it may be by design in certain regards. It’s a serious subject for a novelist.’
Rachel Kushner is among America’s brightest literary stars. With her previous, highly acclaimed novels, Telex from Cuba (about American expatriates in 1950s pre-Castro Cuba) and The Flamethrowers (about radical New York artists in the seventies), she explored two very different scenes of ideological chaos and confusion, with exhilarating prose and virtuosic storytelling.
Kushner's latest novel, The Mars Room, sees her applying her talents, once again, to probing the political context and meaning of a very specific time and place. This time, it’s the American prison system, and it's the present day. The Mars Room is about a woman serving two life sentences for killing her stalker and it’s the product of years of research, and close collaboration with Americans who have themselves served time.
In conversation with Ellena Savage for our Mayhem series in April 2019, the extraordinary Kushner talks crime, punishment and American institutions.
Taking Up Space: Building the City That We Deserve
A woman’s place in the world and right to move through it freely has always been controlled. Workplaces, our city streets, pubs and parks are not just traditionally unwelcoming, but can be dangerous and destructive. Patriarchy has, until now, dominated our public spaces, and the way that different bodies and identities are policed within them.
So how can public space…
A World of Difference: Decolonising Feminism
Nearly 20 years ago, Aileen Moreton-Robinson’s pioneering work Talkin’ Up to the White Woman took a sledgehammer to the idea of a unified sisterhood serving the common good of all women. It was Australia’s first ever analysis of feminism from an Indigenous woman’s standpoint. So, how far have we come?
It’s a problem faced by women everywhere: against a backdrop of…
Kerry Reed-Gilbert: The Cherry Picker’s Daughter
Please note: Aunty Kerry has passed away and approval has been granted to display her picture.
Aunty Kerry Reed-Gilbert was a Wiradjuri poet, elder, editor, educator and a champion of up-and-coming Indigenous writers. Her contribution to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literary community – and to Australia's rich literary landscape more broadly – is hard to overstate. Aunty Kerry…
The Fifth Estate
Post-Election Wrap 2019
A month on from the federal election, once the dust has settled, we’ll take an in-depth look at the events of 18 May and discuss what we might expect from the new Morrison government.
With a mandate, and likely a revamped front bench, can Scott Morrison unite a fractured country and leave a lasting legacy? What are the policy goals…
The Fifth Estate
American-born journalist Megan K. Stack is an acclaimed author and war correspondent. She was Moscow bureau chief for the L.A. Times when she made the decision to work from home and look after her newborn child. As her growing family followed her husband’s work through China and India, Stack’s new life forced her to understand the economy of women’s work…
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The Wheeler Centre
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