Read a Book: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

19 Feb

Ahhh the News. So controversial, so fascinating, so now. From the satiric novel Scoop by Evelyn Waugh, to Gonzo writings of Hunter S Thomspon, through to the numerous Murdoch inspired tales, the story of the people behind the stories has always provided for a good plot, mixed with some racy politics. Add to that the incessant chattering about the Death of the Newspaper and the Threat of the Internet on Journalism, and you’ve got a book waiting to happen.

The Imperfectionists

The Imperfectionists

For London journalist Tom Rachman, it’s these themes, combined with his own journalism background, that has lead to the creation of The Imperfectionists. Set in the newsroom of a small, flailing Italian Newspaper, and flitting between the past (from the 1950s) to the present (2007), the story builds on the standalone stories of each of the people that make up the newspaper.

It’s these characters that make the novel; from the fastidious copy editor, to the green young stringer, the loveless financial officer to the obsessive, slightly manic reader. As each story plays out themes of day to day human suffering (infidelity, broken friendships, lies and loss), the constant sub plot is the incessant demand for deadlines and headlines, and the pressure that falling readership and increasing online competition eventually has on the paper.

More gratifying than gritty or gripping, Rachman’s skills is balancing the stories of human foibles against a world where Saddam Hussein is on a rampage, unrest in Cairo, devastation in Rwanda, and where Britney has shaved her head. With a cracker of a revelation at the end of each chapter, the novel is a blend of newsroom satire and Roald Dahl’s Switch Bitch.

Robot Rating: 8/10



4 Responses to “Read a Book: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman”

  1. RFW February 19, 2011 at 3:32 am #

    I read this book when it first came out – about the same time one of our local city newspaper died. I particularly liked Rachman’s satiric twists at the end.

  2. lambert March 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    I too read this. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. It was well crafted and pretty amusing, and I liked the way it was told, but it kinda felt like it was the first third of what might have been something more interesting. You learned a whole lot about each character, but none of them got a chance to develop other than the snapshot of what was going on with them at that point. that’s my two cents! m

    • chloerobot March 2, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

      @lambert: Good point – and I think I tend to agree. It went about 8/10ths of the way there – and you really wanted something a bit more once you knew the characters. But maybe that was the point?


  1. Heard about the #50bookchallenge? (Books 1-10) « Chloerobot's Blog - March 5, 2011

    […] The Imperfectionists – Tom Rachman (Robot Rating […]

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