The Imperfectionists

The Imperfectionists



The Pequod Review:

The structure of Tom Rachman's first book — a novel comprised of a series of interlinked short stories — is not necessarily an original one, but few writers have executed it so charmingly. The Imperfectionists is comprised of eleven chapters, each one a mostly self-contained story about various people affiliated with an English-language newspaper operating out of Rome (reporters, owners, publishers, accountants, etc.). The book is largely based on Rachman’s own experiences as an international reporter for the International Herald Tribune (in Paris) and the Associated Press (in Rome).

The pleasures of the book are small but frequent. While the narrative mostly deals with mundane day-to-day concerns, Rachman gets all of the details right and has a perceptive eye for the personal and professional jealousies that color every workplace — as well as the sense of dislocation and isolation often felt by ex-pats. And he captures the dispiriting backdrop of a business in secular decline: "Newspapers were spiraling downward. Competing entertainments abounded, from cellphones to video games, from social networking sites to online porn. Technology was not merely luring readers; it was changing them.” This is one of the finer works of modern American fiction.