The old world seemed to have left us alone. No one had floated by in a boat, trying to sell us a canteen made from a sheep’s stomach. No Gypsies had passed through, rattling their wine bottles and singing their songs. Was it because we had succeeded? Because the new world was real? Perhaps. Or maybe it was because, day by day, there were fewer and fewer people left in the countryside. We had not seen the Official Gazette, which published thirty-two laws, thirty-one decrees and seventeen government resolutions against us. We did not see crosses drawn on all the doorways where Christians lived, while Jewish men were made to dig huge trenches in the cemetery. The world was emptied. Anyone who thought about it would have assumed we were long dead or on our way to death. We were forgotten and we were lost and, because of that, the world we made was allowed to go on.
No One Is Here Except All Of Us is not a book for those who take much of anything for granted.
It’s a novel that stitches you to the heart of what matters within and without it. And when the threads of these prosaic, timeless characters tie you up and ensure you’re secured there, that What Matters floods and falls and the wind is kicked out of it. And if you want to end that story for the evening, if you would rather delight in the relief of the century that surrounds you — the one that hasn’t invited this horror to our door, at least not yet — closing the cover on Ramona Ausubel’s literally stunning debut won’t be enough. Because despite this book’s overarching theme of isolationism, its resulting effect on us as readers can only be the opposite: now that we’ve been told the story of 102 Zalischik Jews who sealed themselves off from the war-torn world with an airtight creation story and their collective imagination alone, we ourselves cannot extract it from what we know to be true. If isolation and belief in the warless New Genesis ever worked, for Zalischik or any other Elsewhere, then who’s to say those villagers are not still tucked someplace that war has never reached? Who’s to say the story isn’t powerful enough to sustain them? Does it change what history we know? And if all of this is true, has Ausubel extended a hand toward untouchable territories – and has that had any hand in their unraveling?