Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City. 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.
The clever ironies and turns on the property metaphor are matched only by the twists in the plot to come. A book that begins as a novel of class and then comes to encompass race by the middle transforms again into a waking nightmare ... And the narrator, who has moved deftly from character to character, investing us fully in the lives of all six occupants of the Airbnb, expands our viewpoint outward, to the woods, to the city, to the planet. And the news is not good ... 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.
... enthralling ... Leave the World Behind is a coy little thing: a disaster novel without the disaster ... In most literature of this ilk, the disaster, whether rising seas or a virus, is a force of narrative tension: the reader is keen to learn how humans move from a time of upheaval to one of stability. Alam never gets there; upheaval is all his characters have. His achievement is to see that his genre’s traditional arc, which relies on the idea of aftermath, no longer makes sense.
... a zingy dystopian exercise whose blooming absurdities (the less about which you know going in, the better) would seem frankly unbelievable if they didn’t ring so true ... Alam has both a golden ear and a gimlet eye for the Sturm und Drang of the city's ever-shifting social's strata; a way of slyly dinging its self-delusions and virtue-signalling without turning cruel or petty ... Unsurprisingly, the book's rights have already been snapped up by Netflix...The plan is to present it as a feature film, though the full length of a limited series might better serve the busy tangle of ideas on race and class and consumerism and 21st-century malaise contained within Alam's wild World; until then, his bright, audacious words will have to do.