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The Imperfectionists (2010)

by Tom Rachman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,4142212,726 (3.65)290
An "imperfect" crew of reporters and editors working for an international English language newspaper stumble toward an uncertain future as the era of print news gives way to the Internet age. The story is set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome.
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» See also 290 mentions

English (210)  German (3)  Swedish (3)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (220)
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
I will admit that this book is making me think. I enjoyed it more towards the end when I got the hang of it being character studies. ( )
  FurbyKirby | Jan 5, 2021 |
What a depressing little book. All characters are very unlikeable and things usually do not end well for them. And yet, I strangely enjoyed it. ( )
  ladyars | Dec 31, 2020 |
A collection of sharp and insightful, at times flinch-inducing, character sketches. I felt like I knew many of these people a page into their chapters. A quick but memorable read. The only reason I don't give it five stars is the abrupt, mysterious ending (damned post-modernists). ( )
  stephkaye | Dec 14, 2020 |
I picked this novel up in one of my favorite bookstores, Kramerbooks & Afterwards Cafe in Washington, DC. Diane helped me pick it out, thinking it sounded like something I would like. It was a very fast read and I so wish I could give it five stars, but four will have to do.

Tom Rachman is a gifted writer. His prose pulls you through the story rapidly. It's smooth as silk, deep in texture and wrought with evocative emotions. The novel itself is more a collection of short stories of characters that all intersect in an international newspaper located in Rome, Italy. He writes sage and witty commentary on the newspaper industry, office politics, relationships, and the evolution of media from print to television to the Internet.

I also enjoyed how between each "story," there was an interlude that followed the history of the family who created the newspaper, moving through time to catch up to the novel's main time frame.

Having said that, I should be required to give this book the top rating. However, each of the characters and their stories are so utterly depressing. I felt my own life was an utter dream in comparison and that the very worst in real or fictional people's lives couldn't compare the absolute depression of the characters inhabiting "the imperfectionists." Each successive story felt like cars piling at the scene of an accident, each worse than the previous, each sadder or more depressing. I hate Hollywood endings, but at least one happy story out of the 11 or something less sad than all the other entries would have helped me.

So, excellent effort and beautifully executed, but for me, too depressing to rate it a 5. Four stars will have to suffice. ( )
  drew_asson | Dec 3, 2020 |
Great look at the newspaper industry - especially in the early 2000s as it battles the rise of technology. This is a small newspaper in Rome - started on the whim of Cyrus Ott an American billionaire who wants to make amends with a former lover - essentially this is his gift to her. She and her husband make it a viable enterprise and the story follows the paper through about 50 years. Most of the action takes place in roughly present-day and follows a handful or so of the paper’s employees, working in various capacities- each gets his/her own chapter and headline so the stories are independent but interwoven. There is their big story but also their personal lives: Arthur Gopal who writes the obits and is at the bottom of the pecking order - suffers personal tragedy that makes him a better writer and he rises through the ranks. Herman Cohen the picky publisher whose mentor turns out to be a flop and frees him to be his own self. Kathleen Solson, the editor in chief who walks the line between bitchy boss and exacting professional and a few others from copy editors to foreign stringers and three generations of the hapless Otts. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 210 (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 (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rachman, TomAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Apunen, Mattisecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bachman, Barbara M.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Biermann, PiekeÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Vicq de Cumptich, RobertoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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dtv (14097)
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For Claire and Jack.
First words
Lloyd shoves off the bedcovers and hurries to the front door in white underwear and black socks.
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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Wikipedia in English


An "imperfect" crew of reporters and editors working for an international English language newspaper stumble toward an uncertain future as the era of print news gives way to the Internet age. The story is set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome.

No library descriptions found.

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

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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