From the bestselling author of The Flamethrowers comes the Man Booker Prize shortlisted The Mars Room, an unflinching portrait of a young woman’s life in a Californian prison where inmates must hustle and fight for the bare necessities. With Wheeler Centre Director Michael Williams, Rachel Kushner discusses her fearless black comedy about love, friendship and incarceration, and explores the questions it raises about the relationship between the poverty and its prisons in the United States, and the nation’s devotion to the illusion of free will.

Rachel Kushner (International)

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Rachel Kushner’s debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book. Her follow-up novel, The Flamethrowers, was also a finalist for the National Book Award. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and The Paris Review. She is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2016 Harold D. Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her latest novel, The Mars Room, was a finalist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.

Michael Williams (Australian)

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Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. A sometime Radio National presenter, he remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked in publishing and as a presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR (on Breakfasters), as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, and has written extensively for The Guardian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and elsewhere.