The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman is a series of narratives by different people affiliated with a newspaper in Rome. Each odd-numbered chapter is told by a different character, like struggling freelance writer Lloyd, hated CFO Abbey, and longtime reader Ornella. The even-numbered chapters are devoted to the history of the newspaper, starting with its founding by millionaire Cyrus Ott and ending with its downfall in the current Internet age due to declining readership.
My big complaint about the book is that because it is subtitled “A Novel”, I was expecting a novel. But what we get is individual chapters that tell the stories of different characters, and those characters’ lives don’t really intersect except that they all happen to work at the same newspaper. Because of this, it feels much more like a collection of short stories, which I’m not uaually a fan of. That’s not to say that this book isn’t well done, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. If you’re interested in the topic and like short stories, you should give it a try. There are aspects of it that I really did enjoy, especially seeing the history of the paper unfold throughout the book. At its heart, The Imperfectionists is a book about people trying to get by despite the fact that their careers seem doomed. It seems especially relevant when we hear so much today about print journalism going by the wayside in favor of getting our information online.