First look at Rumaan Alam’s ‘Leave The World Behind’ adaptation
"Something is happening, and I don't trust them."
In a snippet released yesterday by Rotten Tomatoes, Academy Award-winning actor Julia Roberts plays out the racial tensions that outline Leave The World Behind (Ecco Books, 2020), a literary thriller that intersects explorations of race, class, consumerism, and family life in an apocalyptic America.
Shortlisted for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction, Leave The World Behind is the third novel by Rumaan Alam, an American author and editor of Bangladeshi descent. Alam's parents migrated from Bangladesh to the US in the 1970s, raising him in Washington, DC.
Netflix's adaptation of the novel features Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, Mahershala Ali, Myha'la Herrold, and Kevin Bacon in lead roles, with the film being directed by Sam Esmail, creator and director of popular TV show, Mr. Robot. Netflix won a bidding war for the book's adaptation rights in July 2020.
At the novel's opening, Clay (Ethan Hawke) and Amanda (Julia Roberts) arrive with their children at an AirBnb for a vacation in Long Island. All is peaceful, until the owners of the house, the Washingtons, arrive. That Ruth and GH Washington are a Black family brings out unforeseen prejudices that their white houseguests seem to possess. The tension boils over to pure horror when a blackout occurs, threatening each family's survival.
The released teaser highlights the cross wires of class and race dividing the two families as the terror of a cyberattack looms in the background. Actor Mahershala Ali, who has replaced Denzel Washington for the role of GH Washington in the film, posted today on his Instagram suggesting that Leave The World Behind will premiere on Netflix in December 2023.
The release date is expected to be December 8, while the French translation of Alam's novel continues to be advertised in Paris.
Rumaan Alam has previously authored Rich and Pretty (2016) and That Kind of Mother (2018). He is currently working on Entitlement, his fourth novel, forthcoming in 2024.
Read our book review of Leave The World Behind here.