From the author of The Italian Teacher, this acclaimed debut novel set in Rome follows the topsy-turvy lives of the denizens of an English language newspaper.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Janet Maslin, The New York Times • The Economist • NPR • Slate • The Christian Science Monitor • Financial Times • The Plain Dealer • Minneapolis Star Tribune • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Kansas City Star • The Globe and Mail • Publishers Weekly
Look in the back of the book for a conversation between Tom Rachman and Malcolm Gladwell
Fifty years and many changes have ensued since the paper was founded by an enigmatic millionaire, and now, amid the stained carpeting and dingy office furniture, the staff’s personal dramas seem far more important than the daily headlines. Kathleen, the imperious editor in chief, is smarting from a betrayal in her open marriage; Arthur, the lazy obituary writer, is transformed by a personal tragedy; Abby, the embattled financial officer, discovers that her job cuts and her love life are intertwined in a most unexpected way. Out in the field, a veteran Paris freelancer goes to desperate lengths for his next byline, while the new Cairo stringer is mercilessly manipulated by an outrageous war correspondent with an outsize ego. And in the shadows is the isolated young publisher who pays more attention to his prized basset hound, Schopenhauer, than to the fate of his family’s quirky newspaper.
As the era of print news gives way to the Internet age and this imperfect crew stumbles toward an uncertain future, the paper’s rich history is revealed, including the surprising truth about its founder’s intentions.
Spirited, moving, and highly original, The Imperfectionists will establish Tom Rachman as one of our most perceptive, assured literary talents.
In his zinger of a debut, Rachman deftly applies his experience as foreign correspondent and editor to chart the goings-on at a scrappy English-language newspaper in Rome. Chapters read like exquisite short stories, turning out the intersecting lives of the men and women who produce the paper and one woman who reads it religiously, if belatedly. In the opening chapter, aging, dissolute Paris correspondent Lloyd Burko pressures his estranged son to leak information from the French Foreign Ministry, and in the process unearths startling family fare that won't sell a single edition. Obit writer Arthur Gopal, whose "overarching goal at the paper is indolence," encounters personal tragedy and, with it, unexpected career ambition. Late in the book, as the paper buckles, recently laid-off copyeditor Dave Belling seduces the CFO who fired him. Throughout, the founding publisher's progeny stagger under a heritage they don't understand. As the ragtag staff faces down the implications of the paper's tilt into oblivion, there are more than enough sublime moments, unexpected turns and sheer inky wretchedness to warrant putting this on the shelf next to other great newspaper novels.
Customer ReviewsSee All
To begin, I'm 17 years old. The book was so thrilling, that it keeps on reading page after page. I only found one passive character for not saying boring. I have to read the book twice to see how the author assemble this together. I like how he revealed some of the past after each present day chapter. I met all kind of character. You named them: desesparate, introvert, outgoing, worker, competitive, unreliable. That was one heck of stories about journalism.
A good read. If you're a journalist it's a must read.
I am surprised by some of the not-so-great reviews of this book. I was highly impressed by this book. It does read like a collection of short stories, or you could assimilate it to a Robert Altman film where the varying characters are all loosely related and each character has his own interesting storyline. This book is intelligent and very well written. The characters are interesting, and the overall subject of the newspaper business basically moving to an internet format is timely and interesting too. This is one of the best books I've read in a long time and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is looking for a thoughtful, intelligent read.