A Quick Conversation with Tom Perrotta, Author of The Leftovers

In 2011, Belmont author Tom Perrotta published The Leftovers, a novel about a secular rapture in which seemingly random people vanish from Earth. HBO’s adaption of his book for a series of the same name premiered on June 29.

this rapture will be televised

Photograph courtesy of HBO

Doomsday prophet Harold Camping predicted the world would end in 2011. That same year, Belmont author Tom Perrotta published The Leftovers, a novel about a secular rapture in which seemingly random people vanish from Earth. Though Camping’s nightmare vision never came to pass, in a way, Perrotta’s has: HBO’s adaption of his book for a series of the same name premiered on June 29. We talked to the author in Los Angeles.

What advice do you have for people who still think the rapture is coming?
Somebody’s got to be right sometime.

Are people in the television industry more or less likely to be raptured than those in the publishing world?
In the Christian rapture, not too many of either would ascend.

How is the rapture different in the televised version of The Leftovers than you present it in your novel?
The concept has survived unscathed from the book to the show. The show runner is Damon Lindelhof, who worked on Lost and comes out of the world of comic books and sci-fi and genre writing. In the book, I tried to resist genre conventions. I think the show will reflect a combination of our sensibilities.

You published The Leftovers at the height of rapture fever. What would change if you wrote it today?
I might not have written the book now. So much of my energy as a writer was focused on the political split between Christian activists and liberal humanists. With Obama getting elected, certain hot-button cultural issues suddenly don’t seem so hot.

Is there anything or anyone you’d be happy to see drowned in rivers of blood?
No.

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