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Tom Rachman: The Imperfectionists (2010)

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I know, I did say “no more book reviews until November” – but what’s a bookworm to do? After my post on giving up on a novel too ambitious for my dissertation-wrecked brain, I just have to say at least a few words about the awesomeness that is Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists. Because contrary to its title, if you’re looking for a smart, entertaining read this book is, let me tell you, perfection.

The Imperfectionists is the story of an English-speaking newspaper based in Rome, or rather, of those who are connected with the paper: staff, the publisher, and a reader. From the aging Paris correspondent to the accounts manager, they each get a chapter in which we learn about their endearingly imperfect lives and personalities. Even more imperfect, though, is the state of the paper, whose ambitious editor-in-chief Kathleen is trying hard to keep afloat (Kathleen has her own chapter fittingly entitled “U.S. General Optimistic on War”) . The story of the paper is told in intercalated snippets between the ‘people’ chapters, beginning in the 1950s. The book is basically an assembly of short stories that come together as you read on, kind of like a puzzle. By the end, I had a vivid picture of the paper’s world in my mind.

Above all else, I was looking for a good read in The Imperfectionists, and that is exactly what I got. From tragic to hilarious, the characters captured me so much I wanted to stay on my train to work just to be able to read on. I suppose it doesn’t help that I’m a newspaper geek and wanted to be a journalist when I was a teenager. So don’t take it from me, read it for yourselves.

Evaluation: 10/10 (the 10th point is entirely personal, for completely distracting me from my dissertation while reading)

German title: Die Unperfekten
Spanish title:
Los imperfeccionistas

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Author: bettinathenomad

Nomadic fan of books, food, the outdoors, and water. International Relations geek. Chlorine is my perfume.

5 thoughts on “Tom Rachman: The Imperfectionists (2010)

  1. I like this book a lot too! I loved all of the characters.

    • Right? If I had to name a favourite, I’d find it really hard. Maybe Kathleen, the Chief Editor? Although I have to say Ruby Zaga was so mopey I just wanted to punch her. Which goes to show that Rachman does a great job of making his characters lifelike 😉

  2. Thanks for the reminder about this one, Bettina! I’d seen it reviewed similarly highly elsewhere a year or two ago, but I’d forgotten about it already. “Endearingly imperfect lives”: sounds engaging!

  3. Pingback: What I read while away, Part II | Books, Bikes, and Food

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