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Leave the World Behind

by Rumaan Alam

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,2481347,090 (3.43)122
A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they've rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple-it's their house, and they've arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area-with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service-it's hard to know what to believe. Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple-and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other? Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam's third novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped-and unexpected new ones are forged-in moments of crisis.… (more)
  1. 00
    A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet (sturlington)
    sturlington: Well-off people on vacation when disaster hits.
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» See also 122 mentions

English (127)  French (2)  German (1)  All languages (130)
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
Man ( )
  Amateria66 | May 24, 2024 |
I'm not really sure what I just read. No one knows what happened and it just ended. I can say that it kept me reading, waiting to find out what was going on. But I am left without knowing. ( )
  greenbee | Apr 21, 2024 |
This book is closer to a 2.5 rating. I feel like this book, had the opportunity to have such a psychological pull within its plot; however, there were too many things left, obscured or for my imagination to make up that left me feeling like the story was incomplete. There is potential for this plot to go somewhere, but I feel like it just kept dropping in engagement. This was a book I listened to the audiobook for on my way to and from work. If the book was in hand I probably would have DNF the book. I am happy that I completed it, but I’m not sure I would recommend it because it feels incomplete. I picked up this book so that I could read the author’s perspective of the plot before watching the upcoming movie that will be released. I usually watch anything that Julia Roberts is in and will still watch this film, but I’m not as excited for it as I was before reading the book. The stars were for potential of plot, setting, and type of story. ( )
  mybookloveobsession | Mar 12, 2024 |
This book feels like the first third of a thriller/post apocalyptic book. The prose feels kludgy to me, but the worst part is that it just kinda... ends. Suddenly. With absolutely zero conclusion. The characters don't grow. They don't change. There are no discoveries. Several characters start out to do something (the daughter goes off outside and everyone is looking for her, several characters are driving to town because the brother is sick and they need help) and it just STOPS. No resolution. No idea what happened. What?! Definitely did not care for this at all. ( )
  ardaiel | Mar 4, 2024 |
I listened to the audiobook of Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam AFTER watching the movie adaptation on Neflix.
I'm glad I did! I enjoyed them both, for different reasons.
The cinematography in the movie definitely lent to the story (more of a disaster movie vibe which I love).
The book was more of a slow burning what's going on/implied impending disaster/thriller.
I was surprised by the differences between the book and the screenplay, especially the character of Ruth. The racism seemed more blatant in the movie. ( )
  deslivres5 | Feb 25, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
Leave the World Behind was written before the coronavirus crisis and yet it taps brilliantly into the feeling of generalised panic that has attached itself to the virus and seems to mingle fears about the climate, inequality, racism and our over-reliance on technology. As the reader moves through the book, a new voice interjects, an omniscient narrator who begins to allow us gradual access to the terrifying events taking place across America.
added by Lemeritus | editThe Guardian, Alex Preston (Nov 9, 2020)
 
In cutting detail, Alam moves between all the characters’ private thoughts on race, privilege, class and survival, revealing the lies they tell each other both to encourage a sense of calm and to protect their own insecurities.... There’s a dark comfort to engaging with these stories, a sense that living in uncertainty does not necessarily mean we are alone—and that knowing the future won’t help prevent it. I felt a particular isolation in the immediate aftermath of the storm; I feel it every day in the coronavirus era. Resolution will come later. Knowing that is enough for now. “Understanding came after the fact,” Alam writes of his characters. “You had to walk backward and try to make sense. That’s what people did, that’s how people learned.”
added by Lemeritus | editTIME, Annabel Gutterman (Oct 6, 2020)
 
Alam doesn’t dwell in the specificity of apocalypse, which has been the obsession of writers since the Flood. Instead he lobs a prescient accusation: Faced with the end of the world, you wouldn’t do a damn thing... “Leave the World Behind” teeters on that seesaw-edge question in horror fiction: to reveal the monster or not? Ultimately it totters too far to one side, but there is still the primal nail-biting need to know what-the-hell-is-going-on. This propulsion, which drives much of the characters’ decisions, likewise drives the reader onward to a breathless conclusion that, if not altogether satisfying, is undeniably haunting.
added by Lemeritus | editThe New York Times, Afia Atakora (pay site) (Oct 6, 2020)
 
Where other practitioners of the genre revel in chaos—the coarse spectacle of society unravelling—Alam keeps close to his characters, who, like insects in acrylic, remain trapped in a state of suspended unease. This, he suggests, is the modern disaster—the precarity of American life, which leaves us unsure, always, if things can get worse.... In the book’s final pages, as the tension suddenly ratchets up, Amanda thinks to herself, “They were equipped to handle certain fears. This was something else. It was hard to remind yourself to be rational in a world where that seemed not to matter as much, but maybe it never had.”
added by Lemeritus | editNew Yorker, Hillary Kelly (Oct 5, 2020)
 
“Leave the World Behind” is the perfect title for a book that opens with the promise of utopia and travels as far from that dream as our worst fears might take us. It is the rarest of books: a genuine thriller, a brilliant distillation of our anxious age, and a work of high literary merit that deserves a place among the classics of dystopian literature.
added by Lemeritus | editWashington Post, Porter Shreve (pay site) (Oct 5, 2020)
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rumaan Alamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wood, SaraCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Love goes on like birdsong,
As soon as possible after a bomb.

--Bill Callahan, "Angela"
Dedication
for Simon and for Xavier
First words
Well, the sun was shining.
Quotations
There was no real structure to prevent chaos, there was only a collective faith in order.
Sometimes distance showed a thing most clearly.
Amanda wasn’t magnanimous. The call was a relief. She wanted her colleagues to need her as God wants people to keep praying.
He sat on the front lawn in the shade of a tree and smoked. He should feel bad about this, but tobacco was the foundation of the nation. Smoking tethered you to history itself! It was a patriotic act, or once had been, anyway, like owning slaves or killing the Cherokee.
Clay was diligent but also (he knew it) a little lazy. He wanted to be asked to write for the New York Times Book Review but didn’t want to actually write anything.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

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A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they've rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple-it's their house, and they've arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area-with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service-it's hard to know what to believe. Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple-and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other? Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam's third novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped-and unexpected new ones are forged-in moments of crisis.

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Book description
A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong. From the bestselling author of Rich and Pretty comes a suspenseful and provocative novel keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped--and unexpected new ones are forged--in moments of crisis. Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they've rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple--it's their house, and they've arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area--with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service--it's hard to know what to believe. Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple--and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other? -- Provided by publisher.
WorldCat abstract
Finalist for the 2020 National Book Award (Fiction)

One of Barack Obama's Summer Favorites

A Best Book of the Year From: The Washington Post * Time * NPR * Elle * Esquire * Kirkus * Library Journal * The Chicago Public Library * The New York Public Library * BookPage * The Globe and Mail * EW.com * The LA Times * USA Today * InStyle * The New Yorker * AARP * Publisher's Lunch * LitHub * Book Marks * Electric Literature * Brooklyn Based * The Boston Globe
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