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The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
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The Imperfectionists (2010)

by Tom Rachman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,9421951,953 (3.68)276
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    giovannigf: Office Politics reads like a direct predecessor to The Imperfectionists: a fairly realistic (and biting) satire of the machinations behind a literary magazine, described from the point of view of each of the main characters.
  3. 00
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: These character-driven novels use vignettes and ensemble casts to explore multiple plots and the relationships between characters. 44 Scotland Street is both comical and upbeat, while The Imperfectionists is more nuanced, complex, and thoughtful.… (more)
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» See also 276 mentions

English (187)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  Danish (1)  All (195)
Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
Like it enough to finish it. I remember vaguely a scene at the end involving a flight back to the US.

"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." ( )
  jack2410 | Feb 2, 2017 |
not spectacular or fabulous. Unhappy people becoming more unhappy because of their job, mostly. ( )
  sraelling | Jan 30, 2017 |
Lovely novel about the decline of an international newspaper in Rome. Or maybe it's better to describe this as a collection of interlinked short stories, each of which centers on a single character who is an employee (or reader, or publisher) of an international paper in Rome. It's kind of about the news, but more about compassion and human connection. Listened to the audiobook while running and really enjoyed it. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
This was an interesting balance of a book. On the positive side, the characters had interesting similarities to analyze. Everyone worked together but barely knew each other, and the ways they viewed each other and the insecurities they had in themselves were fascinating to compare. The writing was also beautiful. On the negative side, each of the chapters acted as vignettes that offered a brief glimpse into the life of one character - and once it got interesting, it ended. I also had a difficult time liking most of the characters and wanted to go back and hear more about others instead. I like the way the book was framed, but it was an uneven experience overall. ( )
  Alliebadger | Dec 27, 2016 |
The Imperfectionists was an intriguing read to me, mostly because of the way it is presented. In each chapter of Tom Rachman’s novel, we get introduced to eleven characters; all connected to an unnamed international newspaper headquartered in Rome. In the chapters that read like short stories we have a Paris correspondent who is willing to cook-up a story for the front page to get paid, an obituary writer who becomes transformed after a personal tragedy, a business reporter who seems to have got a bad deal in life, a corrections editor who is a grammar nazi, an editor-in-chief who is attempting to reconnect with an ex-lover to get back at her cheating husband, a Cairo stringer who gets railroaded by an expert freeloader, a copy editor whose life seems glamorous to her relatives, a news editor who is afraid of being alone, a loyal reader who is determined to read all the articles the newspaper has ever published, a chief financial officer who hates her office nickname; “accounts payable”, and finally an indifferent publisher whose only friend is his dog.

"… What truth? The paper is hardly at the cutting edge of technology – it doesn’t even have a website. And circulation isn’t increasing. The balance sheet is a catastrophe, losses mount annually, the readership is aging and dying off."

Tom Rachman reminds us with mediums such as television and internet, newspaper publishing has turned into a cutthroat industry. Competition is fierce and real, making it impossible for traditional newspapers to shy away from modern technology.

Having worked at the International Herald Tribune as an editor, Tom Rachman is not new to the life at newspapers. So a touch of reality is there in his depictions of the newsroom, may it be editorial meetings or afternoon rush to meet deadlines. Most of his newsroom characters have dysfunctional relationships, probably because of the toll their work have on them, but none of them are unlikable, and Tom Rachman’s sassy writing style makes this novel a fun read. ( )
  Nirmala.Chandrasiri | Nov 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
The novel is alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching, and it's assembled like a Rubik's Cube. I almost feel sorry for Rachman, because a debut of this order sets the bar so high.
 
Enjoy "The Imperfectionists" for the gem that it is.
 
"The Imperfectionists" is about what happens when professionals realize that their craft no longer has meaning in the world's eyes (think of all those hardworking monk-scribes idled by Gutenberg) and that the only people who really understand them are on the same foundering ship, and that, come to think of it, they really loved that damn ship for all it made their lives hell.
 
He's both testing and tender towards his people - their loneliness and purposelessness, moments of cleaving awareness ("one day, his son will die"), capabilities for love and commitment, devotion to kids, awareness of the fading future of a faded friend. It's convincing and compassionate; amusing and affectionate. In fact, it's a bit of a jewel.
 
Anyone who has ever spent time in newspaperland will recognise The Imperfectionists' high degree of authenticity. So – you hope – will quite a few people beyond it. The citadel may be crumbling, but the righteousness of the defenders, miraculously, endures.
added by lkernagh | editThe Guardian, DJ Taylor (Apr 10, 2010)
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tom Rachmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bachman, Barbara M.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Vicq de Cumptich, RobertoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Claire and Jack.
First words
Lloyd shoves off the bedcovers and hurries to the front door in white underwear and black socks.
Quotations
If history taught us anything, Arthur muses, it is that men with mustaches must never achieve positions of power.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Employees of an old-style English language newspaper based in Rome struggle with personal tragedies, dilemmas, and blunders while eyeing the rising tide of technology.
Haiku summary
Declining news biz/intertwined sad, fun stories/journalists' lives suck (ReadWriteLib)

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Preoccupied by personal challenges while running a struggling newspaper in Rome, an obituary writer confronts mortality, an eccentric publisher obsesses over his dog, and other staff members uncover the paper's founding by an impulsive millionaire.

» see all 5 descriptions

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