The Imperfectionists
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Imperfectionists

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  31,076 ratings  ·  4,585 reviews
Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman’s wry, vibrant debut follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international English language newspaper as they struggle to keep it—and themselves—afloat.

Fifty years and many changes have ensued since the paper was founded by an enigmatic millionaire, and now, amid the staine...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by The Dial Press (first published January 1st 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 02, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: The New York Times 100 Best Novels of 2010
The Imperfectionists is perfect. At least for my taste. You may have a different opinion about this book, but for me, it is just way above the many other books I've read. It is entertaining. It is thought-provoking. It is heart-wrenching. It is funny. It is informative. It has everything I am looking for a contemporary fiction novel.

This book was one of the 100 Best Books in 2010 according to The New York Times. That and the very encouraging blurbs on both covers of the book made me buy and read...more
Rachel
Jul 15, 2010 Rachel rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: crap
This isn't the worst thing I've read this year. Rachman, over and over again, convinced me to care about his characters and their relationships. I can't agree with Goodreads's assessment that the interspersed chapters on the history of the paper are dull; I found them warm and subtle. Neither, however, can I agree that Rachman "creates a diverse cast of fully realized characters." They may have diverse physical descriptions, but all speak with exactly the same voice. He even has one character, s...more
Maryann
The first reviews of this book made me eager to plunge in, but I was so disappointed that I withdrew my suggestion to nominate it for our book club! I said to myself at least twice while reading this, "I hate this book." In the last 50 pages, I found some enjoyable sequences, especially the air plane ride between Abbey and the man she had just fired. Other than that story, it was not very enjoyable reading, unless perhaps one works for a newspaper and enjoys the personalities in that trade.

Overa...more
Cynthia
This is an intriguing book though disconcerting. It’s set in the present or recent past at an English newspaper produced in Italy. As Elizabeth Strout did in “Olive Kitteridge”, last year’s Pulitzer winner, each story or chapter is seen through a different person’s viewpoint. In “Kitteridge” the theme was Olive and how others perceived her or she perceived them. In “The Imperfectionists” the paper is the common denominator. All the stories are the viewpoint of a Staffer.

Interspersed with the vie...more
Madeleine
Once upon an occupationally happier time, I was an award-winning journalist. The "award-winning" part wasn’t all that important (though obviously not some unwelcome kudos) because I have loved print journalism in ways one should never love an inanimate intangible ever since the gateway drug that was my mediocre private university's labor-of-love, student-run newspaper showed me what I was meant to do with my life, a certainty that was cemented by the soaring pride I felt when our Little Paper Th...more
·Karen·
I whizzed through this highly entertaining debut by Tom Rachman wondering how on earth he'll be able to follow it. He apparently used a lot of his own experience of working for the International Herald Tribune here, so the question is where he will go for material next. The Imperfectionists is funny and tender both, Rachman's fondness for his characters with all their failings and foibles comes roaring through, and the man has an uncanny eye, oops, no, sorry that should be ear shouldn't it? for...more
Pei Pei
I enjoyed the first two stories in this book, but as I kept reading I lost interest. The book couldn't seem to make up its mind about what it wanted to be. As separate stories, it was uneven. I enjoyed some stories and laughed and paused thoughtfully at surprising moments, but many of the stories weren't strong enough to stand alone; the dialogue was sometimes cringeworthy and actually seemed to get worse as the book progressed (the same is true, I think, of the general quality of the stories)....more
Trin
So Christoper Buckley wrote this review in The New York Times which was basically, “OMG! BEST BOOK EVER! TOM PLEASE RESPOND POSITIVELY TO MY FACEBOOK FRIEND REQUEST AND MAYBE LET ME BEAR YOUR CHILDREN? <3333” Immediately, every freakin' person who came in my store was like, “Do you have...*desperate sigh* The Imperfectionists?” And then I had to tell them it was backordered because the publishers hadn't expected Christopher Buckley to propose marriage to Tom Rachman in The New York Times and...more
Will Byrnes
This just in, Tom Rachman has given readers an exceptional set of stories about the birth and death of a newspaper, populated these tales with engaging characters and done so with great style and feeling.

The core here is a Rome-based English-language international newspaper. Rachman follows it from its inception in the 1950s to its 21st century demise. The story of this paper is the story of the people it touches, from founder to Obits editor, from editor in chief to Cairo stringer. There are 1...more
Katie Fitzgerald
I don't read a lot of books that aren't written for teenagers, but I read the reviews and the jacket on this one, and decided it sounded too good to pass up. Just a little over 24 hours later, I have finished reading it, and I am so glad it caught my eye.

This novel is a series of interconnected stories about the staff members of an English-language newspaper published in Rome. Each character's chapter begins with a headline and ends with a flashback to a significant moment in the newspaper's hi...more
Alana
So... I'm telling you now that my sudden and vehement dislike of Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists is totally irrational and cannot be defended with any argument that paints me as a level-headed reviewer. Up until approximately five pages from the end of the novel, I would have given this a three-and-a-half-out-of-five star review... not necessarily because I enjoyed every single moment of the novel, but because I thought it was an interesting look at the fascinating and rather endangered indus...more
David
You may be wondering if "The Imperfectionists" deserves the rave reviews it's been getting in certain quarters. The short answer?
Yes, yes it does.

If you like the kind of review that captures the essence of a book in a pithy soundbite, I can offer you: "the 2010 version of "Then We came to the End", this year's "Olive Kittredge", or "Scoop" for the 21st century.

It's just as easy to give you the uncoded description. "The Imperfectionists" tracks the terminal decline of a fictional English languag...more
Susann
Feb 03, 2011 Susann rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Susann by: Sheila
Shelves: idlewild
**warning: somewhat spoilerish**
Interwoven stories about the staff at an English-language newspaper in Rome. At the start, I was impressed with Rachman's story-portraits and finished the first few chapters breathless for the next one. But the characters' all too human flaws gradually laid me low, until I wondered if and worried that we're all as sad-lonely-desperate-petty-conniving-selfish-cruel as these people are. I feel sorry for each character, some with sympathy and others with just pity. W...more
Emily Hill
Oh for the Love of All that is Holy! Please, someone, tell me that Rachman earned more than a 3.5 from the Goodreads community on 'The Imperfectionists'!

Is it the irreverence, the flip attitude, the turn of a(n) intellectual phrase? The Washington Post calls it 'beguiling' - You're killin' me here!

This is off the charts, stratospherically (a) hilarious in its desperate pathos; (b) brilliant in its prose; (c) sinister in its cynicism. I'm hanging up my pen, I'm shredding all copies of my own de...more
Teresa
3 and 1/2 stars

I've read a few reviews that mention this novel reads like a group of interrelated short stories and I can see that, though I don't really agree, as I don't believe the chapters are fully realized enough to stand on their own, nor were they meant to be, as they are intended to be 'chapters' in the history of the newspaper first and foremost.

The fully realized people that populate the novel are the strongest element. There is sympathy for even the most unlikable characters (except...more
Ruth Seeley
The notion of a narrative told from multiple points of view (although technically it's all one third-person omniscient narrator) is exciting to me, but can't say I thought Rachman pulled it off here. I was bored; found it a bit of a chore to finish; wasn't entranced by any of his characters or blown away by the way their lives intertwined. Parts of it were just silly (e.g. the paper's editor's lover's mother who 'had never learned to read a newspaper' and so was only up to reading the news from...more
Crystal Starr Light
The story follows several members of an English-speaking newspaper based in Rome, Italy. There is some overlap and connection between the stories, especially the further you get into the novel. And between short stories about the individual employees of the paper is a main thread that tells the entire story of the paper.

I'm sorry for the unenthusiastic summary of this book. If you really want to get an idea of what this book is about, there are tons of summaries much better than mine (including,...more
Alice
I did not enjoy this book at all. This is yet another entry in the category of books that are supposed to be literary fiction, but are poorly written and so clunkily plotted and presented that they barely resemble the heights of the genre. The Imperfectionists describes the staff of a barely-surviving English-language newspaper in Italy, each chapter devoted to a different person. Every character is reprehensible in some way, or else has very big, obvious unpleasant things happen to them. And th...more
Christy
Really? I'm surprised that the average rating for this is 3.5. When I first started reading it, I wasn't aware that each chapter would chronicle one of the people working at the paper, so I was a bit confused. I caught on after the second one and got completely absorbed. I can't say I've read a book this HUMAN in a long time. Each one of the characters was whacked out in some totally believable way, yet I could relate to each of them in some weird way. I loved the inner dialogue of some of them,...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4* of five

My four-star review is, at its simplest level, an exhortation to read this very good book.

http://tinyurl.com/n66zcsv


My reason for finally, four years later, writing the review is simply that it's on Kindle-sale in the US for $1.99. It's hard to find used books for that little money. It's hard to find a book I'd more strongly urge you to read for that kind of dosh.
switterbug (Betsey)
In this novel about a struggling international newspaper based in Rome, various characters tell the story through chapter-divided vignettes. You don't have to wait until the end for it to pull together, as it is loosely connected from the beginning. As you get deeper into the story, however, the connections deepen, complement, and piggyback each other. It spans about fifty years, from the first edition in 1954 until near-present time. The ineluctable end careens with humor and pathos.

The stories...more
Janet
The Imperfectionists was received with great acclaim and deservedly so. In broad brushstrokes this is the story of a struggling family-owned English Italian newspaper spanning 50 years. Each chapter, a vignette from the vantage point of various staffers, is bookended by the summary motivations or lack thereof by the controlling family member(s) at that particular point in time. It’s this dichotomy that propels the novel into a class of its own.

As is the case with most empire building, it’s not t...more
Lisa
An interesting read, especially since my father was something of a newspaper man. Not an international newspaper man, by any stretch of the imagination, just a reporter and then the editor of our local newspaper for a time when I was a child, but still...I remember listening to him express the language and concerns of journalism when I was growing up. For that reason alone, I think, The Imperfectionists had a nostalgic appeal to me. I didn't particularly like my father, but I did like the idea o...more
Adam
Why do I even bother reading critically acclaimed literary fiction. I always end up flinging the book across the room in disgust. (Dear Local Library, I'm really terribly sorry. Love, CB.) This book is no exception, and here it's the unerring grimness, culminating in one particularly brutal plot twist that resulted in my sidearm toss.

To be fair, it almost works, and if it hadn't been for the disagreeable plot twist*. I might never have thought about it enough to notice how bad this book really...more
Jelena
I came by “The Imperfectionists“ through personal recommendation and several positive reviews I read.

Although indicated to be a novel, the book consists of short stories so that each chapter portraits another staff member at an international newspaper, with intermezzi focusing on the paper’s history and owners. This specific structure is in my opinion rather a shortcoming, since the stories are not intended to be read separately, but at the same time the thread is too weak to provide the structu...more
Jonfaith
A touch uneven, thankfully the weaker pieces are back-loaded. Thoughts gather and scatter from Fleet Street. Nods abound to Waugh and Michael Frayn. It is a worthy screed. Notice is given for the present peril. I've bought this for several people I care about.
Layla Strohl
To say I enjoyed this book would be a great understatement. I I loved this book. Tom Rachman's characters come to life in this amazing debut novel that revolves around the 50 year span of a small international, English-language daily newspaper located in Rome. Over the span of fifty years we meet the founder and publisher Leo Ott, a rich businessman with a passion to have the paper succeed despite having a family back in the States. We meet copy editor Ruby Zaga, who despite 2o years of service...more
Christina
Aug 25, 2011 Christina rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Journalists and former journalists
Recommended to Christina by: A few journalism blogs
Christopher Buckley and lots of other journalists and former journalists have been giving Tom Rachman's debut novel rave reviews.

I'm not really sure if it's earned them.

I think Buckley et. al. just like the book because it's about journalists. And journalists love reading books about journalists - especially when those books mock the people we spend most of our time bitching about. Rachman's book tells the stories of the obnoxious copy editor, the spinster reporter who dates losers who take adva...more
Avigail
I blasted through The Imperfectionists in one day, and found it so engrossing that an irate bus driver had to yell at me to exit when I did not notice we'd reached the end of the line.

It's a testament to Rachman's writing that he maintains such momentum without a clear plot, and that despite the characters' foibles you keep reading to see just who he will shake down next. I sought out The Imperfectionists after reading Christopher Buckley's review on the front page of the NYT Book Review, and su...more
Chance Lee
Unlike a newspaper's human interest stories, which provide a glossy, manipulative look at the private lives of normal people, this book has a real interest in humans, albeit fictional ones. You see characters from multiple perspectives across the vignettes. There's no over-arching plot, just a series of articles. Just like in a newspaper. Quirky character Ornella de Montericchi, reader of the newspaper at the center of this book, "never learned the techniques of newspaper reading, so took it in...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Eclectic Readers: The Imperfectionists 1 6 Sep 17, 2013 06:32PM  
Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Picks - The Imperfectionists 1 7 Oct 26, 2012 10:36AM  
South Shore Readers: Discussion: The Imperfectionists 7 45 Jan 02, 2012 08:17PM  
  • The Unnamed
  • Parrot and Olivier in America
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
  • Let the Great World Spin
  • Fun With Problems
  • The Spot
  • Union Atlantic
  • The Thieves of Manhattan
  • The Lonely Polygamist
  • The Privileges
  • The Ask
  • The Wake of Forgiveness
  • The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers
  • How I Became a Famous Novelist
  • Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
  • The House on Fortune Street
  • Foreign Bodies
  • The Upright Piano Player
Tom Rachman was born in 1974 in London, but grew up in Vancouver. He studied cinema at the University of Toronto and completed a Master's degree in journalism at Columbia University in New York. From 1998, he worked as an editor at the foreign desk of The Associated Press in New York, then did a stint as a reporter in India and Sri Lanka, before returning to New York. In 2002, he was sent to Rome...more
More about Tom Rachman...
The Bathtub Spy The Rise & Fall of Great Powers: A Novel

Share This Book

“What I really fear is time. That's the devil: whipping us on when we'd rather loll, so the present sprints by, impossible to grasp, and all is suddenly past, a past that won't hold still, that slides into these inauthentic tales. My past- it doesn't feel real in the slightest. The person who inhabited it is not me. It's as if the present me is constantly dissolving. There's that line from Heraclitus: 'No man steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.' That's quite right. We enjoy this illusion of continuity, and we call it memory. Which explains, perhaps, why our worst fear isn't the end of life but the end of memories.” 45 likes
“You can’t dread what you can’t experience. The only death we experience is that of other people. That’s as bad as it gets. And that’s bad enough, surely.” 40 likes
More quotes…