Rumaan Alam, author of Leave The World Behind / Picture Credit: David A Land
Rumaan Alam, author of Leave The World Behind / Picture Credit: David A Land

Some of us love the system. Many of us want to challenge it and bring about change. Then there are the majority who are pretty indifferent either way. What all of us expect of the system however, is protection and a safe life. It’s a basic human right… right?

Amanda and Clay, along with their two children Archie and Rose, probably fall into the latter category. So, when the four head out for a quiet reprieve from the bustling life of New York City, in a remote corner of Long Island, they simply expect to enjoy a taste of the good life in a home they’d never be able to afford for more than a few nights away.

This is the basis for author Rumaan Alam's third novel, Leave The World Behind.

And enjoy themselves they do - for a few hours, at least. The quality time that the couple spend with one another and their children however is completely upended, when a late-night knock on the door from a couple claiming to be the owners of the house - G.H. and Rose Washington - sends them in a pursuit for answers to something they can never truly understand.

It is from that moment, where the world stands still, that author Rumaan Alam really accelerates into high gear. That’s not to say the narrative is plunged forward at a hundred miles-per-hour - the pacing is actually quite relaxed, helping to build dread and foreboding - but the nuance that has been used to perfection up to this point, with the subtle acknowledgements of internalised racism and expectations of the world, is pushed even further.

Just how will these two families react to one another’s presence in a situation where not a single one of them can fully realise what is going on across their expansive country? That is what’s truly at the root of this story. Sure, you’ll also have your guesses as to why there’s been a complete blackout across New York, and some potential reasons are gifted as you read on, but that’s not the core issue. In an odd way, it’s secondary.

This is a book about the human condition, modern inequality, unconscious bigotry and just how far a person can be pushed. If you’re a reader who likes to be personally challenged by an author, then this is a read - more, an experience - that you should not pass up.

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam is available now from Bloomsbury Publishing in Hardback (£14.99), eBook (£8.99) and Audiobook (£20).

The book has been optioned for a major Netflix original film, directed by Sam Esmail and starring both Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington in lead roles, after a bidding war from leading streaming platforms that resulted in Netflix picking up the rights to tell Alam’s story.

MORE: Playdate by Alex Dahl, reviewed

When a sleepover turns into an abduction, the Blix family are left distraught... READ MORE

by for
find me on and follow me on

Tagged in