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Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam Review

Title: Leave the World Behind

Author: Rumaan Alam

First published October 6, 2020

241 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9780062667632 (ISBN10: 0062667637)

Rating: 3.19


A captivating novel, Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam, tells the story of two families who are brought together on a weekend that quickly turns into a nightmare. Amanda and Clay, hoping to escape the hustle and bustle of New York City, rent a luxurious home on the remote corner of Long Island.

However, their vacation is disrupted when an older black couple, Ruth and G.H., arrive in a panic, informing them of a sudden blackout in the city. As the families struggle to navigate the uncertain and isolated environment, tensions rise and questions emerge about trust, safety, and their own complex relationships.

Alam’s novel is a masterful exploration of parenthood, race, and class, expertly weaving together a suspenseful and thought-provoking tale of crisis and unexpected connections.

About the Author

I have authored a few novels, including Rich and Pretty, That Kind of Mother, and Leave the World Behind. Additionally, I have had some of my short fiction published in reputable outlets like StoryQuarterly, Crazyhorse, and Meridian.

My writing has also been featured in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and the New Republic. I studied writing at Oberlin College and currently reside in New York with my family.

Editoral Review

In Leave the World Behind, Rumaan Alam weaves together a haunting tale of suspense that is both timely and timeless. Published in October 2020, the book feels particularly poignant amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, as it examines themes of isolation, fear and uncertainty.

At the same time, Alam’s writing style is so reflective and thought-provoking that readers may find themselves contemplating its profound themes long after putting the book down. The story follows Amanda and Clay, a married couple with two young children who have escaped to a luxurious vacation rental in the Hamptons for a much-needed break.

However, their peaceful getaway is suddenly shattered when the owners of the rental, G.H. and Ruth, return unexpectedly, seeking refuge from an unknown crisis unfolding in the outside world. As tensions escalate and communication becomes increasingly difficult, the four strangers are forced to confront their darkest fears and prejudices, prompting them to question everything they thought they knew about themselves, each other, and the world around them.

Alam’s writing is richly descriptive and immersive, capturing the essence of each character’s personality and innermost thoughts with sensitivity and perception. The dialogue is carefully crafted, conveying the nuanced dynamics between the characters in a realistic and insightful way.

The pacing of the plot is intentionally slow, allowing the tension to build gradually, with moments of quiet introspection punctuated by sharp bursts of action that keep the reader on edge. At its core, this book is a meditation on the human experience, exploring universal questions of identity, morality, and mortality.

Alam touches on issues of race, class, and privilege, adding depth and nuance to his characters and creating a realistic portrayal of contemporary society. The book is not without its flaws, however.

Some readers may find the plot too slow, or the ending too ambiguous, leaving them with more questions than answers. Despite these limitations, Leave the World Behind is a powerful and engaging work of fiction, one that will appeal to readers who enjoy thought-provoking, character-driven narratives.

It is a masterful portrait of our current moment, capturing the fears, hopes, and uncertainties that define our times. In that sense, Alam has created a literary masterpiece, one that will leave a lasting impact on its readers.

I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a gripping, unputdownable read that will challenge and inspire. So, in my opinion, the book deserves 4.5 out of 5.