The imperfectionists, Tom Rachman

Writing a book review can be very hard sometimes, especially when the book is more a collection of short stories who are linked, but do not really form a plot.

The imperfectionists was the debut by Tom Rachman and it is set in Rome in the offices of an English newspaper. The paper was published first in the fifties by American businessman Cyrus Ott, but nowadays his grandson Olivier is more concerned with his dog Schoppenhauer who he reads The hound of the Baskervilles to.

Each chapter gives you some insight in the life of one of the employees of the newspaper. Ruby, who desperately wants to stay with the paper, although she thinks everybody is in a complot against her and Lloyd, the correspondent in Paris who is clinging on to his job and even uses his own son as an informer, with enormous consequences. The story of Winston Cheung, the young correspondent in Cairo is hilarious, Winston has no clue and when an experienced war correspondent arrives in Cairo, he manages to take over Winston’s life completely.

The different stories overlap and intertwine and together they weave a pattern of life at the newspaper, seen from different perspectives and moments. Sometimes they are tragical, sometimes embarrassing and sometimes hilarious. Each person muddles through life, makes decisions and has to live with the consequences.

Some time ago I read The decline and fall of great powers and I was very curious to read Tom Rachman’s first book. I was pleasantly surprised by it, because I was not sure if I would like it, since I loved Great powers and this book was so completely different.

Different yes, but the writing was as good and as enjoyable and I loved how everything came together in the end. I did not like each story equally, but most of them were very good. On the whole I can say I quite enjoyed The imperfectionists and I am looking forward to Tom Rachman’s next book.

Published in 2010