The Leftovers

Tom Perrotta

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

384 Pages


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A New York Times Notable Book for the Year

A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book for the Year

A New York Times bestseller

What if your life was upended in an instant? What if your spouse or your child disappeared right in front of your eyes? Was it the Rapture or something even more difficult to explain? How would you rebuild your life in the wake of such a devastating event? These are the questions confronting the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, a formerly comfortable suburban community that lost over a hundred people in the Sudden Departure. Kevin Garvey, the new mayor, wants to move forward, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized neighbors, even as his own family disintegrates. His wife, Laurie, has left him to enlist in the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence but haunt the town’s streets as “living reminders” of God’s judgment. His son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a crooked "prophet" who calls himself Holy Wayne. Only his teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet "A" student she used to be.

Through the prism of a single family, Perrotta illuminates a familiar America made strange by grief and apocalyptic anxiety. The Leftovers is a powerful and deeply moving book about regular people struggling to hold on to a belief in their futures.


Praise for The Leftovers

"The Leftovers is, simply put, the best Twilight Zone episode you never saw."—Stephen King, New York Times Book Review
"An American Chekhov whose characters, even at their most ridiculous seem blessed and ennobled by a luminous human aura."—The New York Times Book Review
"This, of course, is what Mr. Perrotta does so well: depict with both sympathy and humor the sense of sadness, regret, and yearning that ordinary people (even in ordinary times) feel as they drift into adulthood and find that connections—between husbands and wives, parents and children—are way more fragile and elusive than they'd once thought. . . . His gifts as a novelist [are] his talent for depicting the ordinary . . . his affectionate but astringent understanding of his characters and their imperfections; and his appreciation of the dark undertow of loss that lurks beneath the familiar glossy surface of suburban life."—The New York Times
"[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
"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
"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
"Like the mystical Greek philosopher Apollonius of Tyana, [Perrotta] hold[s] mirrors up to characters . . . that often reveal sympathetic or brutally honest portraits." The Christian Science Monitor
"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

"The best book about the Rapture since the New Testament."—Entertainment Weekly
"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

"The author of Election and Little Children raises his game to a new level here. "[A] deeply compassionate treatise on love, denial, and quirky resilience in the face of catastrophic loss."—USA Today
"Leave it to Tom Perrotta, a satirist famous for his at once sharp and compassionate portraits of suburban life, to turn a post-apocalyptic story into a meditation of spiritual crisis and existential ennui."—Elle

"An engrossing read."—People

"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 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 review)

In the Press

THE LEFTOVERS by Tom PerrottaKirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of THE LEFTOVERS . A bestselling novelist returns with his most ambitious book to date.

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt


IT WAS A GOOD DAY for a parade, sunny and unseasonably warm, the sky a Sunday school cartoon of heaven. Not too long ago, people would have felt the need to make a nervous crack about weather like this—Hey, they’d say, maybe this global warming isn’t such a bad thing after all!—but these days no one bothered much about the hole in the ozone layer or the pathos of a world without polar bears. It seemed almost funny in retrospect, all that energy wasted fretting about something so remote and uncertain, an ecological disaster that might or
Read the full excerpt



  • Tom Perrotta Q&A I

    Part 1 of a Q&A with author of THE LEFTOVERS, Tom Perrotta.

  • Tom Perrotta Q&A II

    Part 2 of a Q&A with author of THE LEFTOVERS, Tom Perrotta.

  • Tom Perrotta Q&A III

    Part 3 of a Q&A with author of THE LEFTOVERS, Tom Perrotta.

  • The Leftovers | Tom Perrotta | audiobook excerpt

    Read by Dennis Boutsikaris. What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down?



  • Tom Perrotta

  • Tom Perrotta is the author of six works of fiction, including The Wishbones, Election and Joe College. His novels Election and Little Children were made into acclaimed and award-winning movies. He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Tom Perrotta
    Tom Perrotta


    Tom Perrotta

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