Praise for 'Isles of the Blind'
"Compelling and moving, thanks to the sibling relationship at its core, which raises provocative questions about loyalty, jealousy, and how well one person can know another. A longing for intimacy shines through Rosenberg’s loveliest passages, as when 9-year-old Avram treats his 5-year-old brother’s cystic fibrosis and comes to “know, better than my own, the geometry of moles and birthmarks on [Yusuf’s] neck.” An empathetic, challenging examination of familial secrets, shame, and solidarity." -- Kirkus Reviews
"A rich and lengthy meditation on bloodlines and loyalty, personal and national accountability, and absolution...The novel builds its setting and characters with quietude and grace,...[G]rand historical tragedies become the moral absolutes that help characters work around their more personal disappointments. Turkish life, with its sensuous movements and political quagmires, is imparted in a relatable and appealing way. But the tension between the brothers sits at the novel’s core.... [E]motionally compelling, every moment of this novel becomes appealing for its thoughtful approaches to the complicated nature of fraternal love." -- Foreword Reviews (5 stars)
"Robert Rosenberg subtly unfolds and weaves the plot in this most thoughtful and beautifully written novel, ensnaring readers in chapter after precious chapter...The manner of how a close fraternal relationship comes apart is played out against world events and Turkish cultural and political life, woven throughout a story that provides a complex perspective on its geographical and historical setting, in which personal convictions are at the heart of the struggles of the finely drawn, strong, and engaging characters. Isles of the Blind is a powerful, most satisfying, and enticing novel, and a highly recommended read." -- Jewish Book Council
"Isles of the Blind is both a tribute to one of the world's great cities, and a damning condemnation of a country unwilling to come to terms with its violent past. Part murder mystery and part historical excavation, Rosenberg captures the triumphant and tragic history of one Jewish family working to build a life in Istanbul. Evoking the Jewish diaspora while capturing the horrors of the Armenian genocide, Rosenberg's beautiful novel weaves together a complex history of cultural and personal identity." --Alan Drew, bestselling author of Gardens of Water
"[A] compelling tale of a minority community living in a Muslim Turkish culture that is rapidly coming of age in the modern world....Rosenberg skillfully describes the family’s sense of devotion, strained obligation, and, ultimately, guilt amid the turbulent social and political dynamics of the modern Middle East. His characters persevere despite the circumstances they unwittingly foster, and their reality becomes all the more credible through the author’s adroit character development and his perceptive observation of converging cultures." -- Peace Corps Worldwide
Praise for 'This Is Not Civilization'
"This Is Not Civilization strives to make the point -- and perhaps makes it convincingly -- that it is America that may be lacking in the civilization department ...Journalistic, humane, and heart-wrenching."
-- Christopher Buckley in the New York Times Book Review
"This Is Not Civilization is a brave adventure into the heart of a new world...often hilarious... Rosenberg...has created a sparkling new take on Jorge Luis Borges' map drawn to the exact scale of the actual world, in which every place - and person - is at once at our fingertips and yet hopelessly out of reach."
--The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review
"So how does first novelist Rosenberg manage to pull it off so beautifully?... A wonderful work; highly recommended." -- Library Journal (starred review)
"Rosenberg's ability to illustrate these oddball settings--based on his own time in the Peace Corps and elsewhere--is pitch perfect, a vibrant mix of the serious and the absurd...brilliant." -- Publishers Weekly
"This is risky comedy that in less deft hands would clunk into condescension, but Rosenberg keeps it aloft with a sweet sense of appreciation....what a generous, big-hearted book this is, perceptive enough to catch the goodness in all these well-intentioned people....In an era that gave us the term "compassion fatigue," his novel is a gentle rousing by someone who understands the complicated rewards of caring."
-- Ron Charles in The Christian Science Monitor
"A deeply moving novel exploring the relationship between America and indigenous peoples." -- BookSense
"Absolutely the best work of fiction I've read about Central Asia. Rosenberg's sensitivity to the Kyrgyz...and his downright spooky ability to get inside their heads, was jaw-dropping to me."
-- Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives
"Gripping...exotic and intimate. Every line rings with authenticity, every moment breathes with love and life and heartache. A beautiful, resonant book."
- Brady Udall, author of The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint and The Lonely Polygamist
"This Is Not Civilization is a wonderful first novel, full of the marvelous compressions and juxtapositions and clashes that have indeed made the world a very small place."
-- Bob Shacochis, winner of the National Book Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
"Rosenberg has written not only a wonderfully readable work of fiction but also an important one."
--Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
"[Rosenberg ] clearly knows these poverty-stricken and troubled worlds inside-out and has a wonderful ability to re-create strange ways of life and make them seem perfectly natural in their context...The characters are genuinely gruff and gritty, the food really does turn your stomach, and the mountain vistas, bless them, are truly unforgettable... there are plenty of reasons to keep turning the pages...he writes with great strength, broad knowledge and openness of heart." -- Chicago Tribune
"[An] ambitious and enchanting debut novel that sings. Filled with knowing, deadpan humor and explicit understanding of what it's like to be pulled by and estranged from your homeland...In Rosenberg's generous, perceptive vision, any response is possible, maybe even noble." -- Miami Herald
"This novel should do for us what The Quiet American did for an earlier generation -- put into perspective Americans' well-meaning but arrogant involvement in the affairs of very different cultures. Beware: you're likely to stay up all night to finish it." --Phyllis Rose, author of Parallel Lives and The Shelf
"Small but perfectly captured details of place pervade this novel, continually transporting the reader between its multiple worlds...Rosenberg's real achievement is his insightful and subtle exploration of the way circumstances dictate lives; how, in a time of globalization and hyper-mobility, escape can always appear just a plane ticket or hemisphere away, and how, in such a context, the fealty to place becomes all the more meaningful. Despite the far-flung settings, this humane and engaging story about people and the choices we make has relevance for us all." -- The Texas Observer
"Feeding into my gnawing pondering of Istanbul and abounding with fun in Kyrgyzstan, the lively characters and engaging journeys inhabiting Robert Rosenberg's autobiographical debut novel make up the only "read-straight-though" fiction that I have come across this year." --Powell's.com Staff Picks
"In Rosenberg's intriguing, often witty debut novel, two cultures half a world apart find themselves at the crossroads of extinction." -- The Denver Post
"The deft achievement of This Is Not Civilization grows out of his surehanded grasp of the global status game." -- The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Beautiful...Rosenberg should be thanked for his insights into Middle Eastern culture at a time when understanding of that troubled region is essential." --James Alan McPherson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize