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Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic [Hardcover]

Donna Williams
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct 1992
   Labeled deaf, retarded, disturbed and insane, Donna Williams lived in a world of her own.  Alternating between rigid hostility and extroversion, she waged what she termed her "war against the world."  She existed in a dreamlike state, parroting the voices of those around her in the hope that they would leave her alone.  Few people understood her, least of all Donna helself.

   It was not until the age of twenty-five that Donna discovered the word- autism- that would at last give her the opportunity to understand herself and begin to build a bridge to join the world as most know it.

   Nobody Nowhere, Donna Williams' extraordinary autobiography, is her heroic attempt to come to terms with autism.  This eloquent memoir reveals a fierce intelligence, great creativity and much humour.  It will shatter many myths and misconceptions.

   The poetic sensibility and extraordinary insights of Nobody Nowhere make it inspiring reading for everyone.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Times Books (Oct 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812920422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812920420
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 347,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


...it is an extraordinary book: compelling, shocking, gut-wrenchingly moving... -- Jo Litson, Weekend Review

A powerful, myth-shattering vision from inside a condition that continues to baffle medical science. -- Peter Gzowski, introducing Donna Williams on

An astounding book...by a woman who has revealed a mysterious world to millions of others. -- Peter Jennings, ABC World News Tonight

As brave a book as you'll ever read. -- Los Angeles Times Book Review

By turns fascinating and harrowing...a riveting autobiography -- People Magazine --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Author

What Donna says about writing Autobiography
Why write about oneself?
Everyone has a different reason.

I wrote the first of my four autobiographical works, Nobody Nowhere, on the verge of suicide after a wild half-crazy life with abuse, homelessness and ultimately hope for belonging only to find I was terrified of real closeness. I had a last inkling of hope that I couldn't truly say I'd tried my hardest to cope if I'd never fully disclosed the nature of my own private world. So I wrote out everything that mattered in my feelings and decided to give it to one child psychiatrist in the hope they could tell me what kind of mad I was and whether there was hope for answers and belonging. My intention was to then shred it, burn it and leave this world. Instead it was passed on to his colleague, then from her to her publisher, from him to an agent and from there out into the world it became a number one international bestseller. But why write three more?

My second autobiography, Somebody Somewhere is so completely different to the first and exposed a world of such different, forgotten citizens of the world, that the story had to be told, to give a voice to the voiceless, to be a starting point for solidarity and building bridges. It too became a number one international bestseller.

The third work, Like Color to The Blind exposed three very controversial areas that I felt strongly about; the visual fragmentation of visual perceptual disorders, the importance of augmented and alternative communication systems for voiceless people and the search for selfhood buried underneath stored learning, something so many people struggle with in silence until its often too late.

The fourth book, Everyday Heaven was about the simultaneous discovery of sexuality, journeys in orientation and at the same time coping with loss in a two year span in which I lost three of the closest people in my life.

So I wrote each for very different reasons, to hope and to survive, to shout and to stay sane. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT!! INTERESTING AND ABSORBING. 10 Aug 1999
By A Customer
A well written biography which lets you into her life, and understand why she is the way she is. An excellent reference book for anyone who has contact with autistic people, and some insight and understanding on people who act differently for those who havent. Everyone should read this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This book for me was inspirational and thought provoking. It allowed me an insight into the mind of a person with Autism and shed light on why particular behaviours maybe displayed. Thus, enabling me to respond more appropriately to a person with autism's needs, rather than the task that needs to be carried out!

I found the book distressing in parts (due to how Donna is being treated by others) however, the strength and dermination of her is remarkable. There were parts in the book that made me laugh e.g. her inability at times to generalize and the reactions of others.

Considering i find reading difficult (due to dyslexia) i was unable to put this book down. My family where impressed as it usually takes months to read a book, but this took a week for me! Overall, this book has increased my understanding about what Autism is and what people with Autism experience externally (interacting with others, behaviours, sensory overload etc) and internally (fear, vulnerability, tranquility etc). I Hope i have done enough to convince you that this book is a must for gaining/enhancing personal understanding of Autism!!!!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing insight into an autistic sufferers life. 17 May 1999
By A Customer
A really interesting book that shows what it is like to be autistic. The fact that Donna was able to write this book gives hope to all sufferers of autism. once i had started reading i couldn't put it down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Iona Main Stewart TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is quite a challenging book for me to review. It is an autobiographical account by an Australian girl called Donna who has "characters",as she terms them, named Carol and Willie.

Donna adopted the identity of these "characters" at times of need, Willie appeared to her when she was about two and "was no more than a pair of piercing green eyes whcih could only be seen in the darkness". Willie became the self Donna directed to the outside world, with his glaring eyes and clenched fists. Willie had "a look of complete hatred". Carol was a girl Donna met at at early age who brought her home to her house. Donna wanted to live in Carol's world. When Donna became Carol, she smiled and laughed, and could act "relatively normal". Donna disappeared and Carol "took the stage".

It would be interesting to learn how Donna's condition with her role-playing characters compares with that of those suffering from multiple personality disorder or whatever the correct term is nowadays.

Though Donna may have had several symptoms characteristic of autism, such as problems with the understanding of certain concepts, she did succeed in establishing several amazingly close, though perhaps absolutely short-term, relationships both as a child and an adult, the adult relationships being with others suffering from similar difficulties as herself. But what I'm trying to say is, I don't connect autism, which is a condition where you not only have your own inner world, as I suppose Donna did, shut others out and often never even learn to speak, with a person capable of fluent speech and who establishes deep relationships.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read 8 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This is a very ineresting book and gives you a very good insight to autism from the inside, not from outside looking in. A must read for anyone working or living with autsim.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Normalized 28 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have Asperger's Syndrome and am keen to read other people's experiences. Donna tells it 'as it is', the reality of being different and having to find a way to make yourself understood, at the same time struggling to learn the necessary skills to fit into a largely neuro-typical world. I could identify with many of her situations - not all to the same intensity - non the less, identifying myself in her words was a hugely comforting and normalizing experience.

Yes Donna, we are all fruit salads - I love that expression and will carry it with me in the years to come. Thank you.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I think Donna Williams is one of the world's greatest authors. Although she suffers from pervasive developmental disorder, (autism related), she has shown great courage and will be of great benefit in the future for other people with disabilities.
I suffer, myself, from Asperger's Syndrome (I am 23 years old) and I have benefited from Donna's three autobiographies written.
I am trying hard to find information and correspondence with other autistic people like myself; but the process has not been a walover. I recommend reading of the books, from "Nobody Nowhere"(first) to "Like Color to the Blind" (third) because all three books run in sequence.
I have rated Nobody Nowhere a perfect 10!
Adrian Pooley
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story 20 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really did enjoy reading this book, although if i am honest i found it hard going in places. I kept having to re-read sentences for it to register, the poems unfortunately went over my head. I finished the book and the next day i actually met Donna Williams who was a lovely lady. I had to stop myself hugging her for all the bad things that she had been through, i'm not sure she would have appreciated that! As the mother of an ASD child i'm glad i read the book and i do have her next book,'somebody somewhere' waiting and ready to read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 11 days ago by S. Morrison
4.0 out of 5 stars i like it
This book is very thought provoking its hard to believe this was actually someone with severe autism who wrote this i also read the squeal Somebody Somewhere a truly remarkable... Read more
Published 17 months ago by lynn adamson
5.0 out of 5 stars Donna Williams: Nobody Nowhere
This is an excellent autobiography, full of fascinating and informative insights into autism. Everyone should read it and the sequel, Somebody Somewhere.
Published on 21 Mar 2012 by EML
5.0 out of 5 stars nobody nowhere; product review
I was pleased to have found this book at an affordable price. Books are very delicate products, and can be ruined easily if exposed to rough weather, so it's always a delight when... Read more
Published on 28 Dec 2011 by richard chandler
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Great book.This book decribed to me so many things that are/have happened to me that I was never able to put into words for other people. Read more
Published on 22 Mar 2009 by The Italian
5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody Nowhere - Searching for Her True Identity
I suppose Donna Williams indicated very creatively what it is like to have autism. Actually she felt different and distant from 'the world', and became withdrawn into 'her world',... Read more
Published on 7 Mar 2009 by edrm
5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody Nowhere - Searching for Her True Identity
I suppose Donna Williams indicated very creatively what it is like to have autism. Actually she felt different and distant from 'the world', and became withdrawn into 'her world',... Read more
Published on 7 Mar 2009 by edrm
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful autobiography, superb
This is a truly absorbing autobiography that touches the reader deeply. I could not put it down and was thoroughly addicted to it for three days. Read more
Published on 13 Mar 2006
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