Book Review – The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

This book intrigued me right from the start. It started with some newspaper headlines in capital letters, screaming ‘WORLD’S OLDEST LIAR DIES AT 126’
and my favourite headline, ‘THE SEX LIVES OF ISLAMIC EXTEMISTS.’

It started off with a story about an old French journalist, Lloyd Burko, who is down on his luck, out of touch with the modern and current events, his children despise him and his younger wife sleeps with the neighbour – an arrangement that suits all parties.

I found the story very interesting and was excited to find a novel in my kindle that wasn’t chick fluff or a crime detective story. Then suddenly, the story ended. Or to be more exact, the story didn’t end, but the characters changed. The next headline boomed and the next story was suddenly about different characters, with a minor mention to Lloyd Burko. That’s when I realised I had stumbled upon a novel that followed the lives of a number of characters all somehow linked to an English written Italian newspaper. What a mouthful!

The Imperfectionists is apparently the debut novel by Tom Rachman, and it’s brilliant. The various headlines lead into the vignettes and the lives of the characters are funny, moretimes sad, and so nicely written without it being over the top poetic or dramatic. Each character has flaws and you find yourself interested in each person’s stories. So many times I cursed the author for not exploring more of the character’s lives but I think that’s why it works so well. He delves into each character thoroughly using their actions, thoughts, and conversations and once we’ve adjusted and grown accustomed to their quirks, their heartbreak and lives, we move onto the next Imperfectionist.

There’s the old, snobby woman who reads each newspaper edition obsessively, so much so that she’s a decade behind the current events.

The hated copyeditor who spends each New Year’s Eve at a hotel, spinning a different lie to the hotel staff and herself.

The female employee, only referred to as ‘Accounts Payable’ by her colleagues who finds herself seated on a flight next to the guy she organised to have fired.

The tale of the doomed founder of the newspaper and his unrequited love which leads to this money losing venture.

These stories and more are a great read, not too difficult. It’s also compelling enough to want to keep reading and yet, not wanting to read too fast too quickly, thus ending the stories.

One of my favourite books so far this year.

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