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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.

Event details
Date and time:
Thursday 2 May, 6.30 – 7.30pm
Venue: SSB Lecture Theatre 200
Social Sciences Building
The University of Sydney (Camperdown/Darlington campus)
Entry: free and open to all with online registrations required.

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

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.

Event information

This event is free and open to all but online registration is essential.

Simply click the 'Register now' button or follow this link.

Entry to ticket holders will be prioritised and given on a first in, best dressed basis until the room reaches capacity. If an event is full, this may result in standing room or delayed admittance until an appropriate time.

We recommend early arrival to allow time for finding the venue and securing a seat to the event. Doors open 30 minutes before the advertised start time. 

If you could not register but would like to attend, you are welcome to join a stand-by queue on the night as seats may become available due to late cancellations. Please note, this is not guaranteed so you come at risk of non-admittance.

This venue provides wheelchair access, hearing loop and infrared hearing system.

Access requirements

If you have other access requirements or want more information, get in touch with us on 9351 2943 or email with 'Access | May 2 - Rachel Kushner' in the subject line at the earliest opportunity to allow us time to organise for any additional services in time for the event.

This event takes place at SSB Lecture Theatre 200, which is on the first floor of the Social Sciences Building (enter via Science Road). 

There will be directional signage on the day leading to the theatre. You may also refer to the map on this page. 

By train

Redfern Station is the closest train station. It is a 15-minute walk to the main campus. Please check Transport NSW for train updates and schedules. 

By bus

The closest stop is at City Rd (before Butlin Ave). It is a 10-minute walk to the venue. Use the campus map to locate the bus stop. 

While there is some parking available at Western Avenue Carpark and Shepherd Street Carpark, there is no dedicated parking at this venue and spaces are limited so we suggest using public transport whenever possible.

Head to the University's Parking page for more information about fees and opening hours for Western Avenue and Shepherd Street carparks.

Use the University Campus Maps tool to find out more details about parking and access areas: search A02 under 'Buildings' for the Social Sciences Building. 

Getting there

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