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The Leftovers Hardcover – August 30, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780312358341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312358341
  • ASIN: 0312358342
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (279 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2011: Author Tom Perrotta is a master at exposing the quiet desperation behind America’s suburban sheen. In The Leftovers he explores what would happen if The Rapture actually took place and millions of people just disappeared from the earth. How would normal people respond? Perrotta’s characters show a variety of coping techniques, including indifference, avoidance, depression, freaking out, and the joining of cults. Despite the exceptional circumstances, it’s really not unlike how people respond to more minor incidents in their lives (excepting cults). The result is a novel that’s a slow burn yet strangely compelling, one that leaves the reader pondering the story long after it’s over. In vivid and occasionally satiric prose, he takes a bizarre and abnormal event--the Rapture--and imagines how normal people would deal with being left behind. --Chris Schluep


"The Leftovers is, simply put, the best Twilight Zone episode you never saw."--Stephen King, New York Times Book Review
"[Perrotta's] most mature, absorbing novel, one that confirms his development from a funnyman to a daring chronicler of our most profound anxieties and human desires...Leavened with humor and tinged with creepiness, this insightful novel draws us into some very dark corners of the human psyche."--Washington Post

"[Perrotta's] most ambitious book to date....The premise is as simple as it is startling (certainly for the characters involved). The novel is filled with those who have changed their lives radically or discovered something crucial about themselves, as radical upheaval generates a variety of coping mechanisms. Though the tone is more comic than tragic, it is mainly empathic, never drawing a distinction between "good" and "bad" characters, but recognizing all as merely human—ordinary people dealing with an extraordinary situation." — Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"Ever since Little Children, Tom Perrotta has been a master chronicler of suburban ennui, but he takes things to a new level with his wry, insightful, unputdownable novel The Leftovers...Profoundly entertaining...The Leftovers brims with joy, hilarity, tenderness and hope."--Marie Claire
"An engrossing read."--People
The Leftovers is sort of an “Our Town” for End Times. Tom Perrotta, our Balzac of the burbs, has come up with a wild premise for his engaging, entertaining new novel. Suddenly, a huge number of people vanish from this earth. The only explanation is that The Rapture has occurred…He narrows his affectionate and gently satiric focus to the middle-American village of Mapleton and shows us a bunch of folks trying to get on with their lives…The novel intertwines these stories at a graceful pace in prose so affable that the pages keep turning without hesitation. With Perrotta at the controls, you buy the set-up and sit back as he takes off.”--Chicago Sun Times

“Perrotta combines absurd circumstance and authentic characters to wondrous effect, turning his story into a vivid exploration of what we believe, what matters most, and how, if untethered, we move on…Perrotta treats his characters with sympathy and invites the reader to do the same.”--Seattle Times

“In his provocative new novel Tom Perrotta dives straight into our unease…it’s a gentle, Perrotta-esque go at sci-fi, without any mangled bodies or bombed-out buildings; it’s a realistic novel built on a supernatural foundation.”--Boston Globe

“Perrotta’s gift is his ability to infuse satire with warmth, to find significance in the absurd. It’s easy to mock extreme forms of religious expression. It’s harder to find their meaning and application. Perrotta does both in this rich and oddly reassuring read.”--More Magazine

"The best book about the Rapture since the New Testament."--"The Bullseye" in Entertainment Weekly
"Start with what the author calls a Rapture-like phenomenon, mix in some suburban angst, and poof: All other apocalyptic fiction gets blown away."--O, The Oprah Magazine (selected as one of the Best Fiction titles of 2011)

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Customer Reviews

The book just seems to stop and doesn't have much of a twist to keep me interested til the very end.
Charles Baldanza
It had several characters who had potential for interesting stories, but it seemed a book with no purpose.
Even at the end of book when everyone finds closure and it just ends I didn't really feel much for it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

163 of 182 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Del Sesto on July 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My only experience with Perrotta prior to this was two movies - Little Children, which I liked, and Election which I didn't. (EDIT: Re-watched Election, liked it much better the 2nd time.) His books definitely seem like something up my alley, but I'd never been compelled to pick one up.

This one sounded ideal for me. I love the different portrayals authors make of those "left behind" or in this case, "Leftover."

The prologue, for me, was genius. Absolutely hilarious. I thought it was setting the stage for what was going to be an uproarious social satire. It was not. Though there were moments of humor beyond the start, they were few and far between. What I found most about this book was that it was subtle.

For a long while it felt to me like "The Stepford Wives: The Rapture Years". I'm not a plot point type of reviewer, so this is nothing that you can't read on the jacket copy. There was an event, and a lot people disappeared from the planet. But this isn't some kind of 12 Monkey's type world. It's about normal people, with cell phones and jobs, coming to terms with what happened, and moving on with their lives. The aftermath of the aftermath if you will.

I was feeling really critical of the book because for a long time it felt so emotionless. Some people lost entire families, yet there was no grief. I didn't feel connected to anybody, and the back of the book said "a colorful cast of characters" and I just wasn't getting it, at all (with one minor exception.)

And then it sort of transcended and all came together. And what felt subtle and emotionless as I was going through it, left me feeling ultimately as though I'd been on an emotional journey the whole time.
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76 of 92 people found the following review helpful By moose_of_many_waters VINE VOICE on August 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Tom Perrotta has the gift of a signature style. I could read his sentences, spare, ironic, laced with a bit of light humor, for forever. In a way, he's the John Cheever of this generation, charting without rancor the paths of today's suburban Wasps. His novels are a bit uneven in depth and execution, but they are always worth reading. In The Leftovers, Perrotta starts with the premise that a Rapture-like event has taken to heaven a spotty sampling of the world's population, the good, the bad, the Christian, the Moslem, the Hindu, the Jew, and the heathens. The novel is about the ones left over on Earth - in particular those in an American suburb - and how they cope with both the loss of their loved ones and the fact that they have been left behind.

In a very real sense, this premise is a bit of an ironic joke or at least Perrotta treats it that way. I think that's the flaw in this novel. The narrative voice is a bit smirky and that leads to a fundamental conflict between the very tragic situation of the characters and the "oh-come-on-now" narration. It's hard to become invested in the characters' lives when the narrator holds back emotionally. Then there is the problem of the cliche turns of plot. Key characters join religious cults that have popped up after the demi-Rapture. A teen age girl becomes surly and hooks up with the wrong crowd in high school. The main character in this book - a jock male turned responsible adult - is a bit of a block of wood emotionally, which leads to further distancing on the part of the reader.

I think every professional novelist ought to try their hand at an apocalyptic/dystopic novel. This book reminds me of another interesting, but ultimately unsuccessful attempt that uses an end of the world premise, Malamud's God's Grace. Like Malamud, Perrotta is a very talented writer. Unlike Malamud after God's Grace, Perrotta has many years left to write. My guess is that his next book will be far better.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By bert1761 VINE VOICE on August 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was extremely excited to be able to get a copy of "The Leftovers" from the Vine program. I am very much a fan of Tom Perrotta and thought "Little Children" was little short of a masterpiece. I am also a tremendous fan of "dystopian" fiction. And I was particularly intrigued to see how these two things would come together in one book, as they seemed almost antithetical, given Perrotta's mastery of the realistic. Interestingly, they came together like a hand in a glove, as Perrotta uses the premise of a Rapture-like event to illuminate human behavior in ordinary circumstances. In many cases, one can see several of the characters in "The Leftovers" being in much the same place they are in this novel had the key event never occurred. Nevertheless, the Rapture-like event never feels like a gimmick.

Unlike other Tom Perrotta novels, "The Leftovers" is not a particularly plot-driven book. That being said, the last half of the novel was as much of a "page-turner" as the riveting "Little Children." I was eager to see where the characters and the book were going. While the novel ends without any sort of tying up of loose ends, it did feel -- for the most part -- as though it ended as it should and provided as much "closure" as was appropriate for this story. But Perrotta could just as easily have kept the book going without losing the momentum he had developed. I say that the novel felt properly concluded "for the most part" because there is one plot line that seems to have been cut short and left inexplicable. In all other respects, any "loose ends" are merely those that occur in real life as life goes on.

"The Leftovers" is written in Perrotta's typical direct style, with lean but often evocative prose. And it is not without its fair share of humor, as well. I recommend the novel highly to any fan of Tom Perrotta and to any fan of good, contemporary fiction.
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