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The Imperfectionists

by

The Imperfectionists Cover

 

Staff Pick

It really is as good as you've heard it is, and if you haven't heard someone raving about it, let me be that person. A member of that burgeoning category of book that declines to be easily identifiable as either a novel or book of short stories, The Imperfectionists blurs the two forms into something wonderful. Centered around the rise and fall of an English-language daily paper based out of Rome and started on a whim by a wealthy businessman, each chapter of The Imperfectionists focuses on a different character associated with the paper. It's a hard trick to pull off, but the revolving door of protagonists introduces a cast that is fully realized and wholly human, despite the slim page-count devoted to each one. That they drift in and out of one another's stories only serves to add depth to our perception of them. Interspersed with the often hilarious, sometimes gut-wrenching glimpses into the crew's personal lives is the story of how the paper came to be — a story about an inscrutable millionaire of whom Tom Rachman gives us only a hauntingly peripheral view. With its sucker-punch of an ending and it's fizzy blend of humor, despair, love, and hate, The Imperfectionists reads like riding a Vespa top speed through Rome: glimpses of a bigger picture that add up to something beautiful.
Recommended by Patrick, Powell's Books at PDX

Nobody's perfect, but Tom Rachman comes pretty damn close with his debut novel, The Imperfectionists. Through the lives of the eleven main characters (each with their own chapter), Rachman chronicles the rise and fall of a Rome-based international newspaper, which bears a striking resemblance to his former employer, the International Herald Tribune. Gossipy and fun, yet poignant and timely, The Imperfectionists marks the arrival of a wonderful new literary talent.
Recommended by Shawn D., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman's wry, vibrant debut follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international English language newspaper as they struggle to keep it — and themselves — afloat.

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.

Review:

"Marvelous...a rich, thrilling book...a splendid original, filled with wit and structured so ingeniously that figuring out where the author is headed is half the reader's fun." Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Review:

"Deftly written and sharply observed....Even if you've never set foot in a newsroom, The Imperfectionists proves a delight....It's impossible not to like — this is masterful stuff." The Philadelphia Inquirer

Review:

"Each chapter is so finely wrought that it could stand alone as a memorable short story. Slowly, the separate strands become entwined and the line characters have drawn between their work and home lives is erased....Funny, poignant, occasionally breathtaking." Financial Times

Review:

"The first novel by Tom Rachman...is so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off....[H]ilarious and heart-wrenching." Christopher Buckley, New York Times Book Review

Review:

"This acute debut portrays the world of neurotic journalists....Rachman...paints the characters' small dramas and private disappointments with humanity and humor." New Yorker

Review:

"Charming....The print newspaper may be an endangered species, but the newsroom — with its deadlines, quirky characters and investigative crusades — still makes for a good story." New York Newsday

Review:

"The Imperfectionists will make you laugh and cry. It's the rare novel that can shift emotional tone effortlessly....Magnificent." Seattle Post Intelligencer

Review:

"Laced with humor, irony and compassion....[S]ome of the chapters are absolute gems." Dallas Morning News

Review:

"A very strong debut. Funny, humane and artful." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

One of most acclaimed books of the year, Tom Rachman's debut novel follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters and editors of an English-language newspaper in Rome.

Synopsis:

One of most acclaimed books of the year, Tom Rachman's debut novel follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters and editors of an English-language newspaper in Rome.

About the Author

Tom Rachman was born in London and raised in Vancouver. A graduate of the University of Toronto and the Columbia School of Journalism, he has been a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press, stationed in Rome. From 2006 to 2008, he worked as an editor at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. He lives in Rome.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 20 comments:

Teresa Borden, October 25, 2011 (view all comments by Teresa Borden)
I was quickly drawn in to each character's story in the chapters of this chronicle of a newspaper in Rome. Figuring out how they were all interconnected was fascinating, though I was a bit puzzled at first by the backstory in italics. I could not stop reading this book and was a bit disappointed by the last chapter but would recommend it highly to anyone interested in journalism and the human beings who inhabit the newspaper world.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
reading4years, September 30, 2011 (view all comments by reading4years)
"The Imperfectionists" portrays several people who work at an English-language international newspaper based in Rome. Each chapter features a different person. The portraits are intense, some with jaw-dropping denouements. It also chronicles the changes in the fate of printed news over the past 50 years. An excellent book!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
lissi, September 6, 2011 (view all comments by lissi)
Totally enjoyed this story of the life of a newspaper and those who made it happen. I can say from my own experience, he got it right, from the top to the bottom.
A crazy, quirky group of characters with largely unresolved stories carry you through this paper's history and keep the pages turning.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 20 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385343671
Author:
Rachman, Tom
Publisher:
Dial Press
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
fiction;rome;journalism;italy;newspapers;newspaper;novel;journalists;contemporary fiction;literature;short stories;relationships;american;europe;literary fiction;contemporary;21st century;media;publishing;canadian;paris;literary;expats;characters;vignette
Subject:
fiction;rome;journalism;italy;newspapers;newspaper;novel;journalists;contemporary fiction;short stories;literature;relationships;american;literary fiction;contemporary;europe;21st century;expats;publishing;media;paris;characters;literary;canadian;vignette
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20110131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8 x 5.2 x 0.65 in 0.5 lb

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Related Subjects

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The Imperfectionists Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Dial Press Trade Paperback - English 9780385343671 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

It really is as good as you've heard it is, and if you haven't heard someone raving about it, let me be that person. A member of that burgeoning category of book that declines to be easily identifiable as either a novel or book of short stories, The Imperfectionists blurs the two forms into something wonderful. Centered around the rise and fall of an English-language daily paper based out of Rome and started on a whim by a wealthy businessman, each chapter of The Imperfectionists focuses on a different character associated with the paper. It's a hard trick to pull off, but the revolving door of protagonists introduces a cast that is fully realized and wholly human, despite the slim page-count devoted to each one. That they drift in and out of one another's stories only serves to add depth to our perception of them. Interspersed with the often hilarious, sometimes gut-wrenching glimpses into the crew's personal lives is the story of how the paper came to be — a story about an inscrutable millionaire of whom Tom Rachman gives us only a hauntingly peripheral view. With its sucker-punch of an ending and it's fizzy blend of humor, despair, love, and hate, The Imperfectionists reads like riding a Vespa top speed through Rome: glimpses of a bigger picture that add up to something beautiful.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Nobody's perfect, but Tom Rachman comes pretty damn close with his debut novel, The Imperfectionists. Through the lives of the eleven main characters (each with their own chapter), Rachman chronicles the rise and fall of a Rome-based international newspaper, which bears a striking resemblance to his former employer, the International Herald Tribune. Gossipy and fun, yet poignant and timely, The Imperfectionists marks the arrival of a wonderful new literary talent.

"Review" by , "Marvelous...a rich, thrilling book...a splendid original, filled with wit and structured so ingeniously that figuring out where the author is headed is half the reader's fun."
"Review" by , "Deftly written and sharply observed....Even if you've never set foot in a newsroom, The Imperfectionists proves a delight....It's impossible not to like — this is masterful stuff."
"Review" by , "Each chapter is so finely wrought that it could stand alone as a memorable short story. Slowly, the separate strands become entwined and the line characters have drawn between their work and home lives is erased....Funny, poignant, occasionally breathtaking."
"Review" by , "The first novel by Tom Rachman...is so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off....[H]ilarious and heart-wrenching."
"Review" by , "This acute debut portrays the world of neurotic journalists....Rachman...paints the characters' small dramas and private disappointments with humanity and humor."
"Review" by , "Charming....The print newspaper may be an endangered species, but the newsroom — with its deadlines, quirky characters and investigative crusades — still makes for a good story."
"Review" by , "The Imperfectionists will make you laugh and cry. It's the rare novel that can shift emotional tone effortlessly....Magnificent."
"Review" by , "Laced with humor, irony and compassion....[S]ome of the chapters are absolute gems."
"Review" by , "A very strong debut. Funny, humane and artful."
"Synopsis" by , One of most acclaimed books of the year, Tom Rachman's debut novel follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters and editors of an English-language newspaper in Rome.
"Synopsis" by , One of most acclaimed books of the year, Tom Rachman's debut novel follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters and editors of an English-language newspaper in Rome.
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