Rachel Kushner

Rachel Kushner: What it means to be free

In conversation with the Man Booker finalist
As the Premier Partner of this year's Sydney Writers' Festival, we are proud to present this exclusive, on-campus event with one of America's most acclaimed writers.

Having dazzled readers with turns through pre-revolutionary Cuba (Telex from Cuba) and 1970s New York (The Flamethrowers), Rachel Kushner’s exceptional literary streak continued last year with The Mars Room, immersing readers in the largest women’s prison in the United States.

Reckoning with incarceration and inequality, The Mars Room is heartbreaking, funny and essential reading from a novelist at the peak of her powers.

The University of Sydney warmly welcomes Rachel for a conversation with novelist and queer feminist scholar Professor Annamarie Jagose on writing today and a body of work that spans eras, borders and inner lives.

Praise for The Mars Room

“One of the most gifted novelists of her generation—on the same tier as Jennifer Egan and the two Jonathans, Franzen and Lethem… It’s one of those books that enrage you even as they break your heart, and in its passion for social justice you can finally discern a connection between all three of Kushner’s novels…”
—Charles McGrath, The New York Times Book Review

“A major novel, a sustained performance, one that broods on several exigent ideas… There have always been echoes of laconic but resonant writers like Robert Stone and Don DeLillo in Kushner’s prose. In The Mars Room, she dwells as well on Dostoyevskian notions of evil.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

This event was held on Thursday 2 May, 2019 at the University of Sydney.

The speakers

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 YorkerHarper’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. 

Annamarie Jagose is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney. She is internationally known as a scholar in feminist, lesbian/gay and queer studies. She is the author of four scholarly monographs, most recently Orgasmology, a critical consideration of orgasm across the long twentieth century. Annamarie is also an award-winning novelist. Her last novel, Slow Water, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and won the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards and the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

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