A Guide to Being Born

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Reminiscent of Aimee Bender and Karen Russell—this enthralling new collection uses the world of the imagination to explore the heart of the human condition. Named one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2013 and one of the Best Books of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Combines the otherworldly wisdom of Ausubel’s much-loved debut novel, No One Is Here Except All of Us, with the precision of the short-story form.  and long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Story Prize,  A Guide to Being 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.

Press & Reviews:

“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 can’t be dissected, our anti-anatomies. The dismay of coming to the final page is easily combated by following the example of Ausubel’s characters and beginning all over again.” The New York Times

“…makes you feel as if you have emerged from a concert of atonal music, every object in the world momentarily transformed by Ausubel’s gloriously eccentric vision.”The Boston Globe

“Ausubel plumbs the constant mysteries of life, death, falling in love — all these impenetrable things we human beings quest for — and honors them with the magic they deserve.” NPR

“Beautiful.”The Atlantic

“A writer whose work is both aggressively nontraditional and universally appealing…above all, Ausubel captures that eyeless beauty in the world — the part that goes on without us inventing or destroying or noticing.”Barnes & Noble

“Fans of George Saunders will find a lot to enjoy in Ausubel’s writing, as will readers of Junot Díaz and Argentine fabulist Julio Cortázar.”The Huffington Post

“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

“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

“What’s perhaps most impressive here is how Ausubel is able to connect the stories, despite the distinct and discrete strangeness of each, into a satisfying and cohesive arc, describing a cycle of life from pre-birth and gestation to death and ghostliness.” The Daily Beast

“A charming collection of stories that tackles the frustrations and fantasies of being alive.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Luminous.” Flavorwire

No One Is Here Except All of Us

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Now in paperback!

This New York Times Editor’s Choice and winner of both the PEN USA Fiction Award and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Huffington Post as well as being a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and nominated for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award.

An isolated village tries to save itself from a war through sheer force of imagination—all at the suggestion of a girl.

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.

» Find the Reading Guide here

Press & Reviews:

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

“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

“What is most distinctive about Ausubel’s work is her prose, which is acute and beautiful. Her sentences — often funny, usually heartbreaking — are tiny works of art.” NPR

“Debut novelist Ramona Ausubel casts a vibrant, dreamlike spell in this tale of a remote Romanian village whose citizens try to save themselves from the horrors of 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

“The true magic of the novel is in Ausubel’s prose. She weaves complex, thrilling imagery with the deft hand of a master. With its combination of fairy-tale flair and heartbreaking realism, No One Is Here Except All of Us has earned a place among this year’s most compelling and unique debut novels.” BookPage

“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

“Set in Romania on the eve of World War II, No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel, follows a Jewish community’s struggle for survival.” —Harper’s Bazaar – Must Read Books

“Ramona Ausubel’s debut, No One Is Here Except All of Us (Riverhead), captures the magical group-think of a Romanian village that retreats into an imaginary reality at the outbreak of war.” Vogue

“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 of The Invention of Everything Else

“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.” —Ron Carlson, author of The Signal

“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.” —Christine Schutt, author of All Souls

“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 Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives

“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.” Book Browse

“A fabulist tale of love, loss, faith, hope, community, and, especially, the power of story.” —Booklist