We readers know the power a story can hold—the way that someone's imagination can transform our lives, if only for a little while. One of 2012's most anticipated debut novels, No One Is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel (Riverhead), makes that concept literal when a small Romanian village avoids World War II by imagining it away, only to discover that the real world can't be held at bay forever.

On the New Yorker's blog, Ausubel describes the book this way:

The book is about a young girl, but it’s also about her whole village. At novel’s opening, the residents acknowledge their own place in history and a war, and the menace that is imminent. To keep out the inevitable and to protect themselves, the villagers decide to begin their world again. Destiny unwritten. Time and history forgotten. Jobs, husbands, a child, are reassigned. There is boundless hope.

Still, the real world continues to unfold alongside the imagined one, and, eventually, overtakes it. The new world becomes its own prison. And the narrator must escape and flee her village, move from one world to the next, to find her husband and save her children from a clear, terrible fate. To move them toward an infinite future.


Ausubel's grandmother was born in Romania, and Ausubel says that some of the inspiration for No One Is Here Except All of Us comes from family stories. The book sounds fascinating and I can't wait to read more—until then, I'm savoring the short stories Ausubel has published in places like One Story, the New Yorker (subscribers only) and The Paris Review Daily.

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