At the beginning of the summer, members of the From Left to Write book club engaged in a fun discussion about our summer reading lists. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman was on quite a few lists, and for good reason. I finished it up last week, and I loved every page. I’m willing to admit that the cover art for this book hooked me. I love the font, the empty space, the stack of newspapers. I’m always a fan of the less-is-more approach.
Rachman, a foreign correspondent, set his debut novel in Rome and weaves an intricate story of how this English-language paper came about, and how the lives of the various employees intersect. The overall feeling of this book is melancholic (albeit with a few chuckles thrown in). It could truly be real-life, which is refreshing. Each chapter reads as a stand-alone short story, focusing on one particular employee. Occasional chapters are thrown in giving the reader some backstory about the paper’s founder and original employees, and the group that runs it. Rachman writes this book flawlessly, with a depth of feeling and connection to the characters that is very impressive for a debut novel.
Each character is a real person, complete with flaws, issues, and hang-ups. No one person is a hero or extraordinary in any way; all of the characters simply work to put out a daily edition of this declining newspaper and none seem to be aware of the goings-on of their co-workers’ personal lives.
I read the 304-page paperback edition in just a couple of days – it is an engrossing novel. I look forward to reading more of the author’s work! Have you read The Imperfectionists? What did you think?