REVIEW: ‘LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND’ BY RUMAAN ALAM

 

It’s summer. And Amanda wants to spend it with her husband and two teenage children in the country, in a vacation house in Long Island, ‘The Ultimate Escape’. But the weekend is not as blissful as they planned.

Who plays the guest and who is the host?

Rumaan Alam’s third novel ‘Leave the World Behind’ published by HarperCollins on 6th October 2020 has been named as the National Book Award finalist.

Netflix has already planned an adaptation with Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts.

‘The Ultimate Escape’ with it’s white brick walls, tasteful, lavish interiors, night lit swimming pool and detergent smelling sheets stands at a hands distance from the woods, in the middle of nowhere.

The first couple of days remain peaceful with garlic pasta and pints of ice cream, afternoons in the swimming pool and the children’s exploration of the abandoned shacks, familiar, amazing sex or falling asleep on the sofa.

But during the third night, with a stormy sky and a notification of a blackout, arrive the Washingtons. They claim to be the owners of the house, scared of the weather and blackout, they want to be safe in their own home.

But can Amanda trust them with her children sleeping upstairs? Will the Washingtons be comfortable sharing their house with another family who have already made them at home with towels on the floor and a sink full of dirty dishes? Who plays the guest and who is the host?

The unnatural sightings of the wild animals and the noise that cracked the glass walls of the balcony remain unexplained with no influx of news. The spilling fear, unanswered questions and unmade decisions hang in the stale air.

The novel inspires awe in a way that it loosens it’s hold to a touch of a fingertip just before gripping us tight, ready to devour. But the true wonder of the book hits when you complete the novel- the last few chapters urge you to revisit the whole plot, unravel each of their minds, trying to understand the layers of the story and the storytelling.

The novel at times reads like a script. And thus it comes as no surprise that Netflix has already planned an adaptation with Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts.

‘Leave The World Behind’ is extraordinary – with its continuing suspense, the spreading of dread, the wonder that is parenthood, the expectations of race, and relationships formed and reformed through circumstances.

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