No One is Here Except All of Us

( 16 )

Overview

 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

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Overview

 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.
 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Fantastical and ambitious . . . infused with faith in the power of storytelling . . . Light and tenderness persevere—in a shining moon, in a candle still aglow, in a mother’s embrace of her child.”—The New York Times Book Review
"An absorbing and unpredictable novel that manages to encompass a wide geographic and emotional range. . . . Ausubel's original voice combines fresh, clear observation and Old testament grandeur."—The New Yorker
“Debut novelist Ausubel casts a vibrant, dreamlike spell in this tale of a remote Romanian Village whose citizens try to save themselves from the Holocaust by reinventing their own history.”—Marie Claire
 
“Romanian Jews in 1939 reinvent their own reality in this inspiring novel about the power of community and imagination.”—O, the Oprah Magazine
 
“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.”—Vogue

"No One Is Here Except All of Us contains so many achingly beautiful passages, it's as if language itself is continually striving to be a refuge. . . . If a book can be said to have a consciousness, the consciousness here is infinitely tender and soulful, magical and true. It's the kind of God we wish for.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Ramona Ausubel's first novel, "No One Is Here Except All of Us," is a poetic fable about a part of history after which some people say poetry is an obscenity… Ausubel's fable-like tone is effective in creating a sensation of tale and dream. For conveying the full horror of the events surrounding the Holocaust, it is less so, but this isn't what she's trying to do. Instead, she is comfortable reshaping, in a safe time and place, stories that were handed to her, using her rhetorical and narrative skill to create something that can be carried without cutting the one who carries it.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“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.”—Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
 
"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.”—Samantha Hunt, author on The Invention of Everything Else

“A special work of the imagination, an original gift, dark and light, and Ramona Ausubel colors it all with a glowing wisdom.”—Ron Carlson, author of Five Skies

“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.”—Brad Watson, author of The Heaven of Mercury

“A wise, compassionate book that even in its darkest turns uplifts.”—Christine Schutt, author of Florida and All Souls

Publishers Weekly
Ausubel’s debut novel about survival and storytelling begins in 1939 as nine Jewish families that make up the northern Romanian village of Zalischik decide—as war threatens to consume all of Europe—to “start over” by retreating into an imaginary, alternative history and remaking their world. Aided by a mysterious pogrom survivor who appears in their village, these families reinvent themselves, reassigning relationships, occupations, even ages, believing against reason that this new version of events will keep them safe, for, they hope, “this world is about hope more than events.” At the center of the effort and the novel is Lena, the 11-year-old daughter of the village cabbage farmer, who must maintain the thread of narrative even as she is adopted by her aunt and uncle, married to the banker’s unlucky son, Igor, and becomes a mother. When the outside world finally intrudes on the village idyll, Lena must accept that her duty is “to survive to tell what happens,” and she sets out on a journey that will deprive her of everything but her will to keep telling. Despite hints of beauty and meaning, the novel’s combination of magical realism and traumatic history feels forced, undermining its theme of the power of storytelling. Agent: Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Feb.)
Library Journal
In 1939 in an obscure Jewish village in Romania, a woman washes up on the shore of the river, the only survivor of a brutal attack that destroyed her family. The villagers take her in, but her story brings the reality of war to them. What if they could create a new world, one without death and destruction? Through stories, they begin speaking their new world into existence. Young Lena is most affected by this creation; casting aside preconceived rules, her childless aunt and uncle decide that she should be their daughter because her parents have three children. Further transformations take place when the banker decides his son should marry Lena and start a family. As Lena questions her identity, the village continues to live in committed isolation until enemy soldiers arrive. During the hardships suffered by the survivors, the power of story keeps them and their families alive even if only in memory. VERDICT Debut novelist Ausubel has written a riveting, otherworldly story about an all-too-real war and the transformative power of community. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 8/8/11.]—Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594486494
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/5/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 335,077
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ramona Ausubel is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of A Guide to Being Born. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, One Story, The Paris Review Daily, Best American Fantasy, and elsewhere, and has received special mentions in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She has been longlisted for The Frank O'Connor Short Story Prize, and a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions award and the Pushcart Prize.

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
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.

ABOUT RAMONA AUSUBEL

Ramona Ausubel has been published in The New Yorker, One Story, The Paris Review Daily, The Best American Fantasty and elsewhere and has received special mentions in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and was a finalist for the Puschcart Prize. She is a recipient of the Glenn Schaeffer Award in Fiction and a graduate of the MFA program at the University of California, Irvine.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • In the opening of the novel , Lena tells Chaya in her letter , &ldquoMaybe , when the world began , everything had been clean and pure.&rdquo When the villagers start their world over , does the world begin &ldquoclean and pure ,&rdquo or are the seeds of its destruction built into its founding?
  • When the villagers start their world over , they begin with storytelling. What importance does storytelling have for the novel? What is its power? How does each of the characters employ storytelling? What do these uses tell you about each character
  • One of the bonds that is the most transient in the novel is that between parent and child. How does the author depict this bond? Consider the situations in which children are transferred in the novel: were the parents right to let their children be adopted by others? What do you think about the motivations of the adoptive parents?
  • What is the stranger’s role in the re-creation of the world? Could the villagers have done it without her? Why does she decide to help protect the village from the outside world? What eventually makes her allow it back in?
  • Igor is the only character who is captured , yet his imprisonment ends up ensuring his safety , while the characters who remain &ldquofree&rdquo must fight for their own survival. What does this say about the concept of freedom? In this novel , is personal choice a gift or a burden , or both?
  • With the reinvention of the world , time is upended. Lena is made to grow up at an unusual rate. Does she really age faster? Do you think she and the other villagers realize the truth but allow Hersh and Kayla to believe their own story? What about when Lena gets married and bears a child—has the story about her aging process had a real and actual effect?
  • How does Lena know what happens to the other characters? Given the role that imagination and storytelling play in the novel , does it matter whether Lena has outside information? Would that make her version any more or less true?
  • Many unfair things happen to Lena during the course of the book-her parents’ giving her away , her losing her sons , and so on. How does she cope? Does she forgive the other characters? What role does forgiveness play in the novel?
  • What do you think the title No One is Here Except All of Us means?
  • At the end of the book , Lena writes to Chaya , &ldquoSomeday , your children will ask what happened , and you will tell a new version , and in this way , the story will keep living. Truth is not in facts. The truth is in the telling.&rdquo What does Lena mean by this? Is there a difference between truth and accuracy?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 12, 2012

    A gentle raft ride, then white water and stars

    A village simply decouples itself from Europe in 1939. This novel explores big subjects - history, identity, nature, war, childhood - through the life of the village, as if Brigadoon floated away from World War II. About 320 pages long, the book drifts gently at first, and then courses along from about page 190 to the end in some of the best contemporary story-telling and writing I have read. Might be a book that will become a classic.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    "There is always a story. No matter what we do, it can't he

    "There is always a story. No matter what we do, it can't help but unfold"

    No One Is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel is the most moving book I have read in a long time.  

    I grabbed it from the library after Leah @ Books Speaks Volumes raved about it, and I was not disappointed.

    The small Romanian village of Zalischik is isolated from the rest of the country geographically.  When a stranger is found, still alive, in their river, with a horrific tale of WWII tragedy, the town takes 11-year-old Lena's advice to begin the world again.  What does this mean?  The villagers ban together, "forget" and get rid of old world things, and start their lives over. 

    This leads to some wonderful and some very tragic experiences.  

    But what happens when the bubble bursts?  When the villagers can no longer pretend that they are truly isolated in a new world?  

    Ramona Ausubel is a beautiful writer, sometimes cryptic and odd, with writing filled with gorgeous metaphors.  

    The writing is emotional.  I felt so connected to the characters.  

    No One Is Here Except All of Us is mournful, beautiful, like a song that fills you with melancholy and brings tears to your eyes.   

    Thank you for reading, 

    Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Lyrical and Poetic Book

    No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel is a fic­tional book tak­ing place dur­ing World War II. The book fol­lows a small group of Jew­ish vil­lagers who lives in a town on a river bank.

    In a remote Jew­ish vil­lage, located on a river bank, the war is clos­ing in on them. After thou­sands of years of mov­ing, escap­ing and being expelled sud­denly, in 1939, it seems that there is nowhere to go.

    The answer to the village's dilemma comes from an eleven year old girl and a mys­te­ri­ous stranger - they will rein­vent the world.

    No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausube is a very lyri­cal and poetic book. The story flows, is unique and fas­ci­nat­ing. Most of the time I read the book I felt as if I, or the pro­tag­o­nist, were dream­ing, how­ever, upon read­ing the author's note it turned out that many of the events are based on what Ms.Ausubel's great grand­mother expe­ri­enced dur­ing World War II.

    The premise of the book is inter­est­ing, some­thing I haven't read yet. At first it was hard for me to process the story, I'm just too log­i­cal, but the more I read, the eas­ier it go and I started to let go and enjoy the story more and more.

    Ms. Ausubel man­aged to cre­ate a world within a world through her char­ac­ters which sucked me into as well. I would almost be tempted to cat­e­go­rize this book under "magic", but I wouldn't go as far and nei­ther does the book itself.

    With­out giv­ing any­thing away, I was sur­prised by the end­ing, which is not sappy or the manda­tory feel-good type we come to expect. Even if you wouldn't like the story, you'd love the prose.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2012

    Pleasant enough reading

    Interesting concept but becomes meaningless at the end.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2012

    Somewhat dark with fairy tale nuances

    Since it was meant as a word-of-mouth story it is not the easiest read out there but worth the effort.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 18, 2013

    A terrible book. Poorly written and childishly done. Characte

    A terrible book.

    Poorly written and childishly done. Character development was non-existent. The only reason I kept reading was it was a book club choice. I was hoping that all the characters would quickly die so the book would be over.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    No one is here except all us

    The weirdest book that I have read about a group of people during WWII and the losses they shared, the deaths , and trying to remember their faith. I really didnt enjoy and was the hardest 200 pages to read. Not because of rthe subjecy matter, but the way the matter was written. A sixth grader could have done as well. I read a lot. Generally, a book every day or two. I couldnt keep on track. The book was free and you could tell.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    Don't waste your money

    This book has to be one of the worst books I have ever tried to read. Don't waste your money!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2012

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 27, 2013

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    Posted June 12, 2013

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    Posted February 3, 2012

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    Posted May 14, 2012

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    Posted February 3, 2012

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    Posted October 20, 2012

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    Posted April 9, 2012

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