In 1939, the families in a remote Jewish village in Romania feel the war close in on them. Their tribe has moved and escaped for thousands of years - across oceans, deserts, and mountains - but now, it seems, there is nowhere else to go. Danger is imminent in every direction, yet the territory of imagination and belief is limitless.
At the suggestion of an eleven-year-old girl and a mysterious stranger who has washed up on the riverbank, the villagers decide to reinvent the world: deny any relationship with the known and start over from scratch. Destiny is unwritten. Time and history are forgotten. Jobs, husbands, a child, are reassigned. And for years, there is boundless hope. But the real world continues to unfold alongside the imagined one, eventually overtaking it, and soon our narrator - the girl, grown into a young mother - must flee her village, move from one world to the next, to find her husband and save her children, and propel them toward a real and hopeful future.
A beguiling, imaginative, inspiring story about the bigness of being alive as an individual, as a member of a tribe, and as a participant in history, No One Is Here Except All Of Us explores how we use storytelling to survive and shape our own truths. It marks the arrival of a major new literary talent.
What really makes this book a standout is Ausubel's writing. Honestly, I can't remember reading a more beautifully written book. The author's use of language is marvelously poetic and vivid; nearly every sentence paints a detailed picture. She relies heavily on metaphor throughout the novel, and while I often found her allusions unusual, they were also highly illustrative and apt. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Ramona Ausubel's debut, No One Is Here Except All of Us captures the magical group-think of a Romanian village that retreats into an imaginary reality at the outbreak of war.
A wonderfully fresh and inventive premise replicating exactly what literature can do, and award-winning debut author Ausubel reputedly writes with warmth and flare.
Ausubel uses the history of her own great grandmother as the framework for her first novel, which fully evokes the horrors of the Holocaust by merely touching on events. A fabulist tale of love, loss, faith, hope, community, and, especially, the power of story.
Starred Review. Ausubel's sustained, idiosyncratic take on the Holocaust is double-edged, alternating affecting heartache with sentimental poetic overkill. Opinion may be divided, but there’s an undeniable element of talent here
Brad Watson, author of Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives
Beautifully written and alive in story, fascinating characters, and place. You can't help but compare Ausubel's book with Marquez - with her fantastic vision of history and invention, the small village dreaming the vast world - but she is her own new fresh voice.
Samantha Hunt, author of The Invention of Everything Else
Here is a world created out of the most curious and beautiful remnants of our own: opera, suitcases, letters, rivers, daughters, strangers and shovels. Ramona Ausubel cracks open the very idea of a book and fills its shell with a thing glimmering, thrilling and new.
Christine Schutt, author of All Souls
Beguiling and deeply informative, Ausubel's novel is a creative account of the recreation of a world full of the visionary's paradox: the song is a howl, the child is an ancient, 'yet everything stays true no matter how much changed.' A wise, compassionate book that even in its darkest turns uplifts.
Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
In her debut novel, No One Is Here Except All of Us, Ramona Ausubel breaks new ground, with a unique prose style that weaves a classic immigrant tale into a world of dreams. The town of Zalischick and its citizens re-write their own story, filling it with magic, hope, and a determination in the face of destruction to find new ways to begin.
Ron Carlson, author of The Signal
Here we are, benevolent and cruel, gorgeous and deranged, in a truly enthralling saga, which simply staggered me with its capacity for gratitude. No One is Here Except All of Us is a special work of the imagination, an original gift, dark and light, and Ramona Ausubel colors it all with a glowing wisdom.
In a thoughtful and personal interview, BookBrowse reviewer Kim Kovacs talks with Ramona Ausubel, debut author of No One is Here Except All of Us:
It seems like you hit a mental roadblock after researching your family history, mired in facts that wouldn't form into a novel. In an interview with Penguin you said that you "got closer to the truth once I put my notes away." Can you tell us more about that?
I had interviewed my grandmother, gathered photographs and letters and objects and spent time in the library doing research, but when I started to write, I felt completely stuck. I didn't have nearly enough information to write a real history, yet the information was enough to feel limiting. Finally, I realized that historians were taking care of the history - I only had to write my own story. This was to be my version of the old village where my great-grandmother...
Whimsical, wise, beautiful, magical, and sometimes even heartbreaking, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True weaves together two remarkable stories, reimagining half a century of Polish history through the legacy of one unforgettable love affair.
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