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From the twice National Book Award–nominated and bestselling author of The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner offers a heart-stopping new novel, The Mars Room, that straddles the inside—and outside—of protagonist Romy Hall’s reality: an inmate beginning two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley, where “you do not see a single star.” With great humor and precision, Kushner moves between Hall’s polar worlds: the severed world of her past in San Francisco with her young son and her present institutional living with its absurdities and the thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive. Kushner will discuss this emotionally acute yet unsentimental story with writer Danzy Senna, who frequently writes about race in America.

Rachel Kushner

Rachel Kushner is the bestselling author of The Flamethrowers, a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times Top Ten Book of 2013. Her first novel, Telex from Cuba was also a finalist for the National Book Award. She lives in Los Angeles.


Danzy Senna

Danzy Senna is the author of five critically acclaimed books of fiction and nonfiction. Her first novel, Caucasia, won the Book of the Month Award for First Fiction and the American Library Association’s Alex Award. Caucasia was a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was named a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. Her other books include the novel, Symptomatic, the memoir, Where Did You Sleep Last Night? A Personal History, and the short story collection, You Are Free, and the forthcoming novel, New People. Senna is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award and was recently awarded the 2017 Dos Passos Prize for Literature. She has written for The New YorkerThe New York Times and Vogue, among other publications. She lives in Los Angeles.


Reservation Policy for Free Programs:
As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at approximately 7 PM.

Standby Policy:
Standby numbers are distributed in person only one hour before the program, on a first-come, first-served, basis. There is no advance wait list for full programs. Standby patrons will be admitted subject to availability. Most programs will be available via podcast.

Book Signing Policy:
ALOUD is one of many free programs at the Los Angeles Public Library made possible by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Most ALOUD author programs are followed by book signings. At least one copy of the author’s book must be purchased from The Library Store in order to participate in any post-program book signing, and you will be asked to show proof of purchase. Please be prepared to show your proof of purchase when you enter the book signing line. Proceeds support the Los Angeles Public Library.

Main Image: Amanda in the Mirror, Nan Goldin, 1992 (Book Cover)


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the reservation policy for ALOUD?

    As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at 7 PM.

  • Why do programs fill so quickly?

    ALOUD provides a unique experience for the public to engage with scholars, authors, and artists in the intimate 235-seat Mark Taper Auditorium. Library Foundation Members have the benefit of reserving for programs in advance of the public. Consider joining as a Member to receive this benefit, and check the website on an on-going basis for program availability. Be sure to subscribe to our email alerts, and visit our Media Archive for podcasts and other items from our recent programs.

  • Where does ALOUD take place?

    Unless otherwise noted, ALOUD programs are held at the downtown Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium.

  • Where should I park for ALOUD programs?

    We recommend taking public transportation. Parking for the Central Library is at the Westlawn Garage at 524 S. Flower Street. For more information, visit the Library’s website.

  • Should I purchase the author’s book in advance?

    We encourage you to purchase books from the Library Store. All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Books are made available for purchase when you reserve for a program online, and are also on sale at programs. In order to participate in the book signing, you must purchase at least one book from The Library Store. Members receive discounts on purchases.


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