The latest novel by Rachel Kushner, about a lap dancer sentenced to spend the rest of her life in prison, should be read immediately, it’s so good.

Here’s the review that appeared in issue 3 of Strong Words.

Lap dancer gets life

The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner

Cover of Rachel Kushner's The Mars Room

The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner. Jonathan Cape, £16.99

Former lap dancer seeks lost child from inside her California lady prison

The Mars Room is a San Francisco lap dance parlour short on glamour among patrons and employees alike; “If you’d showered you had a competitive edge.”

Dancer Romy, 29, kills a patron/stalker, and so is serving an eternal sentence in California’s Stanville women’s prison, and serving as our guide to Rachel Kushner’s exhaustive research into what goes on within these walls.

The correctional facility system may be so vast that it has evolved into an industrial process, but the people within it still have to make it from one end of the day to the other, and this is a story of who they are and how they do it.

Romy also has a child, although dumped him with neighbours so often he started talking Spanish. When Romy’s mother dies, she no longer knows where the boy is, and jail is no place to begin making enquiries. It is, however, filled with some world class improvisational talents.

If you must spend some time in prison this summer, make it this one.

This review appeared in Issue 3 of Strong Words. If you’d like to buy the rest of the issue, go here.