Tom Perrotta - The Leftovers (4 stars)

The measured delivery of this fantastical story results in impeccable satire

Tom Perrotta - The Leftovers

(Fourth Estate)

Tom Perrotta’s measured new novel proves that even with the most fantastical story, you don’t have to be flashy to hit your nail right on its head. The Leftovers is about a half-cocked Rapture in which believers and atheists alike have been whizzed out of thin air. The novel relates the stories of those left behind and how people cope very differently when faced with inexplicably huge trauma.

Focusing on the Garvey family, who have remained intact physically but psychologically are torn apart, we meet Kevin, the father and local politician faced with the heavy burden of reassuring loved ones and voters; his wife Laurie has left the roost to join the Guilty Remnant who dress in white, constantly smoke and wordlessly stalk the grief-stricken; daughter Jill has shaved her hair while mourning the friend who was zapped right in front of her; and son Tom has joined a cult whose leader is embroiled in an almighty scandal.

The waft of post-9/11 America is all over this book, but Perrotta’s humorous and subtle prose and incisive character-shaping helps him deftly explore the pain of severe loss.

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