Cabell First Novelist Award Festival 2013

VCU welcomes Cabell First Novelist Award winner Ramona Ausubel in celebration of her novel No One is Here Except All of Us

Writing a novel is hard, but getting it recognized is harder. Each year, hundreds of wonderful novels hit the shelves with little fanfare. The aim of the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award is to find those outstanding debut novels and honor the creativity and inventiveness displayed by the authors.

Award winners are drawn from a pool of over one hundred entries, submitted by publishers, agents, editors, and writers, which is narrowed down by readers from both the university and Richmond community. Their scores lead the First Novelist Committee toward a shortlist of three or four novels, from which the winner is selected by a panel of prominent judges, including the previous year’s winner.


This year VCU is recognizing No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel, which tells the story of several Jewish families in a Romanian village on the cusp of World War II. Hoping to escape the horrors of war, the villagers cut themselves off from the rest of the world and create an imaginary, alternate history for themselves. Eleven year-old Lena, whose parents give her to her childless aunt and uncle under the village’s new conditions, becomes the novel’s narrator. Lena acutely observes the changes around her, but slowly adapts to the insulating comforts the new world brings. Ausubel seamlessly blends folklore and magical realism with her gorgeous prose in this inventive debut, making her a well deserving candidate for the award.

When judging this year’s finalists, Liz Humes, host of Wordy Birds and former president of WRIR, said of the novel: “When reading the dream that is No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel my mind wandered to dozens of people who will shudder under the breadth of her writing. Her book is a gift. Ausubel braided the horrendous fringes of the Holocaust with myth, innocence, and healing. The language and ideas float above the horrific landscape and release from the muck a story of immeasurable imagination.”

The award festival will take place Tuesday, November 19th at 7:00 PM in the Richmond Salons of the VCU Student Commons. Ramona Ausubel will read from No One is Here Except All of Us and discuss the writing and publication process prior to a book sale and signing.

The event is free and open to the public, but organizers are asking that attendees register online in order to help plan for seating.

Photo By: VCU Cabell First Novelist

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Shannon Nemer

Shannon is a reader, teacher, and professional Australian Shepherd entertainer.

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