Bloomsbury has won a seven-publisher auction to secure Rumaan Alam's "unnerving" novel, Leave the World Behind, deciding to "crash" the book into its autumn schedule.
Associate publisher Alexis Kirschbaum acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein, on behalf of Julie Barer at the Book Group. North American rights were sold to HarperCollins/Ecco.
Described by Bloomsbury as an "electrifying and unnerving novel...for our times", the publisher has taken the decision to publish the book in November, despite the autumn rush. Kirschbaum said: "Rumaan Alam has written a singular work of fiction that begins as a domestic novel and turns into an apocalyptic nightmare. Fiction this good, this relevant and purely entertaining is very rare indeed. I knew we had to crash it into the autumn."
Leave the World Behind explores race, climate change and the "terrifying realities" of life. The synopsis describes the book as a "terrifying, impossibly compelling literary thriller of ideas about the world we live in now".
"Leave the World Behind centres on a white couple who head out to a remote holiday home in Long Island," the publisher says. "When a black couple arrives at the door late at night, they bring the news that a power outage has swept New York. But in this rural area, with the TV, phones and internet down, it’s hard to know what to believe. At a time when the fate of the world appears unknowable, the novel captures the threat of our age of anxiety by asking whether our institutions are truly able to protect us – and showing how the most terrifying realities are never far from home."
The novel has been optioned for a major Netflix film directed by Sam Esmail, starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington.
Alam has also written That Kind of Mother and Rich and Pretty (both HarperCollins). Describing the novel's inspiration, he said: "Leave the World Behind was born of my desire to write about this political moment – about race, and class, and climate change and all its associated catastrophes – using the language of the domestic novel."
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