Synopses & Reviews
Reminiscent of Aimee Bender and Karen Russell—an enthralling new collection that uses the world of the imagination to explore the heart of the human condition.
Major new literary talent Ramona Ausubel combines the otherworldly wisdom of her much-loved debut novel, No One Is Here Except All of Us, with the precision of the short-story form. A Guide toBeing Born is organized around the stages of life—love, conception, gestation, birth—and the transformations that happen as people experience deeply altering life events, falling in love, becoming parents, looking toward the end of life. In each of these eleven stories Ausubel’s stunning imagination and humor are moving, entertaining, and provocative, leading readers to see the familiar world in a new way.
In “Atria” a pregnant teenager believes she will give birth to any number of strange animals rather than a human baby; in “Catch and Release” a girl discovers the ghost of a Civil War hero living in the woods behind her house; and in “Tributaries” people grow a new arm each time they fall in love. Funny, surprising, and delightfully strange—all the stories have a strong emotional core; Ausubel’s primary concern is always love, in all its manifestations.
"Ausubel follows up her debut novel, No One is Here Except All of Us, with a charming, at times precious collection of stories that tackles the frustrations and fantasies of being alive. Split into four parts birth, gestation, conception, and love the volume deposits characters in a real world gone awry, a place where true adoration is accompanied by the growth of additional 'love-arms,' men sprout drawers of bone in their chests, and the ghosts of Civil War generals play catch with youngsters. Dabbling frequently in broken families, the author's greatest triumphs come in narratives that weave the defeated with the absurd. 'Atria' finds a pregnant teenager convinced her growing baby will not be human, and in 'Snow Remote,' a family practices strange habits, from manning an elaborate Christmas display to engaging in phone sex all while living under the clouded memory of a lost matriarch. Quite often, and with great effect, the misplaced and aimless find solace. Still, the quirk factor occasionally works overtime, leading to eccentric character-naming (Mother Mom; Professor Paul Pretoria) and jarringly peculiar moments, like in 'Saver,' when a character performs an impromptu dental inspection on a first date. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“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
Praise for No One Is Here Except All of Us
"Fantastical and ambitious . . . infused with faith in the power of storytelling.”—The New York Times Book Review
“An absorbing and unpredictable novel. . . . Ausubels original voice combines fresh, clear observation and Old testament grandeur.”—The New Yorker
“No One Is Here Except All of Us contains so many achingly beautiful passages, its 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.”—San Francisco Chronicle
"Each story in this collection finds a way to record the tensions between the corporeal and the invisible, the forces that animate us but ultimately cant be dissected, our anti-anatomies. The dismay of coming to the final page is easily combated by following the example of Ausubels characters and beginning all over again."—The New York Times Book Review
“Aggressively imaginative.”—The New York Times
"Lyrical stories arranged around themes of birth, gestation, conception and love. . . . Ausubel has a gift of language so rich that even the most mundane events are invested with poetry, and many of her characters are in need of all the poetry they can muster."—Kirkus
"Ausubel is a master stylist of vibrant, concise prose, and these stories, with love most often at their cores, can be appreciated for that alone."—Booklist
"These stories reminded me of branches full of cherry blossoms: fresh, delicate, beautiful, expressive, otherworldly. I eagerly read from one story to the next."—Aimee Bender
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 the Author
Ramona Ausubel is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of the novel No One Is Here Except All of Us and the short story collection 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