Quick Book Review: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

This book is really a collection of short stories, but each story deals with a different employee of an international newspaper based in Rome. In a way, they are all imperfect, either there’s something wrong with their work, or how they treat their colleagues, or with their private life, or their personality.

At the end of each chapter a part of the story of the foundation of the newspaper (and its decline) is told. After a number of chapters, the events in the chapter and the history part at the end of the chapter start to complement each other.

I don’t like short stories in general, and that was also a problem for me in this book. The main characters from one chapter would only be mentioned in passing in the other chapters and to me the connection wasn’t clear enough to make the book one large story about a newspaper.

I enjoyed reading most of the chapters, but would have rather continued reading about one particular character rather than moving on to the next. If you like short stories, this book would probably work for you, and you might even find it a clever way to tell a story about a newspaper.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Number of pages: 358

First published: 2010

I got this book: from Anna of Anna’s Leesreis during a Dutch book blogger meeting (Thanks!)

Genre: contemporary fiction

About Judith
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com and bookhelpline.nl. We edit books and articles for independent writers.

17 Responses to Quick Book Review: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

  1. Interesting. Hybrid short story collections/novels can be great when they work but I know what you mean about feeling frustrated by switching too many times. One of the best examples I’ve ever come across was Andre Volos’s Hurramabad, my Tajikistani book for A Year of Reading the World.

  2. I don’t read a lot of short stories either but I absolutely loved this book, especially for the quietly affectionate way in which Rachman paints his characters. I also love writers that make you read between the lines and reward you with unexpected insights and glimpses into people’s lives. For me this was a series of lovely, excellent vignettes that amounted to something bigger than just the sum of the parts. And it was often quite funny, too – although I realize that humour is something very personal.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Anna, thanks for giving the book to me. I think the reading between the lines was not for me (at least not at the time I read this book), I got impatient with it. I indeed suspected the book was bigger than the sum of its parts, but obviously I missed the connection to make that happen for me.

  3. I never really read short stories, unless it’s like a book full of columns from an author I really like. So I am not sure if I would like this book, but the idea sounds interesting somehow.

  4. Oh no! I picked up a second hand copy of this 2 weeks ago. I didn’t realise it was like a collection of short stories- I have a similar problem with them 😦

  5. capriciousreader says:

    Oh dear. I never realized this was a collection of connected short stories. They are very hit or miss with me. Plus, I get enough of work life at work, so now I’m really thinking this isn’t a book for me. Too bad; I really love the cover!

  6. bibliosue says:

    I enjoyed this book but I see your point about it seeming to be a set of connected short stories. The author probably could have done a better job of linking them.

  7. Roof Beam Reader says:

    The structure reminds me of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio… I found that “collection” to be brilliant (also short stories, but really one story) – this one doesn’t sound as appealing, though.

  8. Leslie says:

    I usually like interrelated short stories. This would be a maybe for me.

    Have you read The Love We Share Without Knowing by Christopher Barzak? It’s a collection of interrelated stories that come full circle in the end. It’s a little dark and science fiction-y which may be why I liked it… and it was nominated for a Nebula a few years ago.

  9. Pingback: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman « The Sleepless Reader

I love comments! Let me know what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: