Los Angeles Times
"Atlantic islands, Northeastern U.S. fishing towns, the last years of the Vietnam War: Ammiel Alcalay flies over this time and these places. . . . It's a line-drawing of a novel; deeply evocative and written by someone who has studied the craft in its simplicity."
—Susan Salter Reynolds
"Its beauty is as stark and obscured as its fog-shrouded coastal setting."
A Gathering of Tribes
"Islanders is magically concise, a bigger book than it would seem by its actual size. In its choices of details of experience it exhibits a fascinating sensibility that often makes use of keen attack and sly, subtle poetic devices within a seemingly seamless structure. . . . the workings of this place are so well set within the seemingly casual narrative that they do not overwhelm, but suffuse, using shifting patterns and subtle rhythms of sequence to build from memory, images, and tales a powerful prose and poetic totality."
LITERATURE Ammiel Alcalay: Part I
Jan 20, 2011
"Islanders, Ammiel Alcalay's latest book out now from City Lights Books, depicts the action of remembering, with Alcalay using words not so much to dictate a story, but to create a syntax that describes this experience. Certain phrases are repeated throughout the text; sentences veer and wind, then halt and interrupt; commonplace statements encompass multiple meanings and complex ideas. Islanders is that unique hybrid of poetry and prose, where pronouns and plot lines are secondary to rhythm and pacing. We become engrossed in Islanders's bleak, clouded atmosphere, allowing Alcalay to guide us through his characters’ memories. The pathway from the first page to the last—similar to how the past reappears in the present—is non-linear, illogical, and yet ultimately comforting."
Risa Kahn, Bomblog