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Rumaan Alam

Author of Leave the World Behind

5+ Works 2,565 Members 145 Reviews

About the Author

Includes the name: Rumaan Alum

Works by Rumaan Alam

Leave the World Behind (2020) 1,945 copies
Rich and Pretty (2016) 340 copies
That Kind of Mother (2018) 269 copies

Associated Works

Things to Come and Go: Three Stories (1983) — Introduction, some editions — 15 copies


2020 (28) 2021 (30) adoption (10) American (9) American literature (15) apocalypse (24) apocalyptic (13) audio (9) audiobook (15) contemporary (17) contemporary fiction (16) dystopia (41) dystopian (18) ebook (33) family (43) fiction (219) first edition (10) Indiespensable (13) Kindle (27) literary fiction (9) literature (10) Long Island (30) motherhood (11) mystery (35) New York (15) novel (35) own (10) post-apocalyptic (11) race (16) race relations (12) read (29) read in 2021 (10) science fiction (15) signed (17) suspense (27) thriller (42) to-read (294) unread (16) USA (14) vacation (14)

Common Knowledge

20th century
Places of residence
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Oberlin College
short-story writer



This is the worst book I've ever read in my life.

Since I was a teenager I've had a system for logging and reviewing books and films upon completion. I write out long form reviews, with emphasis on the artistry, discussions it could create based on socio-political themes, and an examination of the context with which the work was created and discusses. It is my sincere hope that writing these down will make me a better storyteller, conversationalist with people from different backgrounds, and a worldwide citizen who has inherited a society fraught with problems.

Yet for this novel, I'm not going to discuss the litany of disappointments I have with it. My fear is that by criticizing a world that'd allow it to be published, my writing would quickly turn into a suicide note.

I hated, hated, hated this book. I encourage all those who view this message to please avoid it.
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JuntaKinte1968 | 116 other reviews | Dec 6, 2023 |
Disturbing. The details of a certain class of north easterner is frighteningly accurate (that vacation shopping cast had me howling with laughter. I feel seen hahaha). Lulls you into what is a terrifying end of the world story. A nuclear event? It’s scary and upsetting. Very well written.
BookyMaven | 116 other reviews | Dec 6, 2023 |
One is rich one is pretty. Their friendship, their lives…nothing much happens. Well written but not much of a story.
BookyMaven | 15 other reviews | Dec 6, 2023 |
This is a strange post apocalypse novel which begins with a family travelling to a remote house on Long Island which they have rented for a holiday. They settle in for a couple of days enjoying the peace, the swimming pool, a day at the beach etc. There is rather a lot of information on the groceries they buy at the nearby town. Then the internet connection is lost and the TV reception also. The woman gets a couple of headlines on her phone about a power outage on the East coast but can't actually read the articles. There is an air of strangeness as if something is about to happen. Their 16 year old son and 13 year old daughter aren't that bothered at this stage. Then the first of a certain phenomena occurs (avoiding spoilers) and it is clear that things are serious though what is actually happening is as unclear to the reader as to the characters.

A couple arrives late that night claiming to be the property owners and wanting to stay as they were afraid to remain in New York with a power outage; it seems that they have a New York apartment and this is their holiday home. The husband has to lay down a thousand dollars to convince the family to allow them to remain. Tension begins at this point because the holidaying family are white and the owners are black and are obviously wealthier and the head hopping style of omniscient narrator means that the various reactions, including racist ones, are evident to the reader.

The level of paranoia grows and certain things happen which, again, I won't mention to avoid spoilers but one thing I found irritating is that various health effects are never explained. In fact, the root cause of the whole thing is not explained though the omniscient style drops in the odd disquieting fact - for example, certain people will perish in New York because they are stuck in lifts etc. The power never goes out at the house although there is no explanation of how this could be possible, which I didn't find convincing. What has actually happened is total guesswork, how big an area is affected is again unknown, and the ending is a damp squib.

To add to the problems, the book is written in an odd and overwritten style which comes across as trying too hard to be literary. There is unnecessary emphasis on masturbation and other sexual aspects, even of the teenage son. None of the people are likeable. I suppose as a depiction of what it might be like when civilisation has broken down and people are afraid to leave a house in a remote place to find out what is happening, it does have some credibility. The way the characters become highly irritated with each other and are not really listening to each other is quite convincing. But it is rather a ragbag of lots of different ideas/images that the writer presumably thought were interesting and just dumped in randomly, such as a flock of flamingos turning up one day. The tone is almost satirical at times, and the writer doesn't seem to like the characters either. So given all the issues, I would rate this as a just about OK 2 stars.
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kitsune_reader | 116 other reviews | Nov 23, 2023 |



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