The Imperfectionists


Author: Tom Rachman

Year: 2010

Country: USA  (the publisher is American, the author, British)

Genre: Journalism – Drama – Romance (a bit of many genres, I would say)



After years of working as a journalist all over the world, Tom Rachman decided to start writing fiction. His debut novel The Imperfectionists proved very successful, and soon it was included in the New York Times bestseller list.

What first called my attention about this book is the original way in which is structured. Every chapter is about a different character related to the newspaper, like a reporter, an editor or even a reader. And at the end of each, you also get to read one or two pages telling the history of the newspaper in flashbacks. It may sound kind of convoluted, but it’s not that you get lost while reading the book. Actually, I think that this unusual structure is what makes The Imperfectionists so interesting. At the beginning, it looks like a bunch of unrelated stories that just happened to be in the same book, but then a protagonist from one chapter is mentioned somewhere else, and as this keeps occurring you start finding out how all the characters are connected to each other. And I love that.

Tom Rachman

Though there is a sort of red line throughout the book, plot plays just a secondary role in it. The most important feature of the novel is instead, characterization. Rachman really did a great job portraying all the characters, so that you know everything about their personalities. You know the way they think, the way they talk and the way they see other people. You know their fears, insecurities and goals in life. And the best thing about it is that the author is so good he doesn’t even tell you these things directly, and still, you know them.

A reviewer said in the Financial Times, “each chapter is so finely wrought that it could stand alone as a memorable short story”. And I have to say I couldn’t agree more. Among my favourite chapters are the ones about Arthur Gopal, Abbey Pinnola and Ornella de Monterecchi. I like Arthur Gopal’s because I love the relationship between him and his daughter Pickle (what a funny name, by the way), and there is a very interesting conversation with a person Arthur interviews. Abbey Pinnola’s chapter is very entertaining despite the fact that it takes place mostly in an airplane, and it is amusing the way Abbey changes the way she sees people according to what is convinient for her. But the one I liked most was Ornella de Monterecchi’s, who doesn’t work for the newspaper, but reads every single daily edition of it, from the beginning to the end. It is not a just a habit. It is an obsession, from which she’s unable to escape.

To sum up, I think The Imperfectionists is absolutely worth-reading. Especially for being so original. Besides, this is the kind of book I like reading twice, so that I can pay more attention to all the things I overlooked the first time I read it. And, of course, to enjoy such a delightful book once again. ☎


– Written by GuadiRC –


12 Responses to The Imperfectionists

  1. Pingback: Books – The Imperfectionists | Glutton for books, movies & series

  2. Sajib says:

    Why that telephone sign at the end?

    • fictionworms says:

      Haha xD No particular reason, just thought it was cute (have you noticed we always finish our posts with a symbol like that? usually a sun, smiley face or pointing hand, but this time I decided to change 🙂 )

  3. Ben says:

    Seems like a good read. I am always interested in how essayist/journalist/screenwriter live their life. And I guess it would be a good book for me for having a busy schedule. Saying that every chapter is like a short story is really a plus. :] I can surely read it bit by bit. Thanks for the review.

    PS: Have you watched Harry Potter yet? I’m going to post my review soon. Just want see your view. I sort of “dont like it” but I want to see it again. LOL this feeling is ineffable XD

    • fictionworms says:

      I’m glad my review was useful to you 🙂 I think you’ll like The Imperfectionists. And you’re right, it won’t be a problem if you’re busy and can only read it bit by bit. BTW, are you already in college?

      PS: I watched HP two days ago! I actually liked it a lot. The 3D was really cool, and some special effects were spectacular (the dragon, OMG!). The only things I didn’t like so much were the same I didn’t like so much in the book, so I can’t blame the movie for that. If you have read my review of the first book, you know how much HP means to me, and thus you’ll understand why I cried even in the least cryable parts (I think the word “cryable” doesn’t exist xD). You, know, it was really THE END, so the feeling I had was just as you described it: ineffable. I was wondering whether to write a review or not. I actually was thinking about reading all the books again (but in English, not the Spanish translations I read before), and watching all the movies as well (that would came in handy to practise my listening skills too, especially when it comes to British English, which I find the most difficult to understand). So then I would write a review of all the books and movies. But I don’t know, maybe I’ll do that during my summer vacations when I have more time (my summer vacations start at the end of November).

      • Ben says:

        It was. May I ask if the each chapter is in an essay form? Or something like that? I’m looking for books in good writing.

        Yes, I’m already in college. Second year college and so far its killing me XD. I thought you were also in college?

        Woah, I guess HP is part of your childhood. It was really sad to it end. Like you, I’ve watched the movie for quite some time now, one week, and like you I don’t know how to review it. I’m dumbfounded. However, there are actually scenes I didn’t like. For instance, the battle at Hogwarts. When Tonks and Lupin and Fred (or George?) died in the battle, we weren’t given a time to weep or there wasn’t actually a screen time for that. Also, where was Kreacher and the other creatures in the battle? It was all between Harry and Voldemort. And Oh yea Voldemort. I was anticipating for terrifying character but all I got is a comic relief. Remember when he said “Nyaaah!” or “He he he he”. That was a turn off!
        That was my rants to name a few.

        The movie was great but you know I was expecting it somewhat more grandeur.

        I haven’t but now that you mention it. I’ll go and see it. :]

        Eh? How did it became a “summer” vacation? I reckon in November, wherever in you are in the world, is cold. XD Just saying :]

  4. fictionworms says:

    Sorry Ben, I didn’t understand your question: “May I ask if the each chapter is in an essay form? Or something like that? I’m looking for books in good writing.” Though structured in an unusual way, The Imperfectionists is written like any other fiction book, I don’t know what you mean by “essay form”. This book is just fiction, it isn’t about improving your writing skills.

    Oh I didn’t know you were in second year of college! What are you studying? I am still at High School, but this is my senior year, I finish in four months and next year I start University.

    Oh, you’re right about the deaths of those characters, they didn’t get enough attention in the movie, so it wasn’t as sad as it should have been, especially for those who haven’t read the books.

    Haha, it is not cold in November all over the world xD You know, the Earth is divided into two Hemispheres marked by the Equator. So in countries which are in the Northern Hemisphere (like the USA, any European country, or I guess also the Philippines), it is summer from June to September and it is winter from December to March. In countries which are in the Southern Hemisphere (like my country Argentina and most of South American countries) it is the other way round. Summer starts in December and finishes in March, while Winter lasts from June to September. Thus, summer vacations in Argentina start in December and finish in March 🙂 You know, it is like 40 ºC in Christmas day here 😀

  5. Ben says:

    Ah. I was hoping that it would be like “What The Dog Saw” by Malcolm Gladwell where every chapter seems like an essay or an article. But I’m still looking forward to that book. It’s a bit sad though our school library doesn’t have it so I have to buy myself one at the bookstore.

    I’m in second year college but I guess we have the same age since you are in a K-12 education, right? I’m taking Accountancy, a killer subject. A word of motivation: Universities are so cool. You can meet many intellectual people and learn many interested things. Good Luck for your college time. BTW, what are you taking?

    Oh, I didn’t know that. I was under the impression that in December-January, all countries have snows except on the equatorial regions which include Philippines. (I really want to touch snow. Smell it. Eat it. XD) But you do celebrate Christmas right?

    PS: You haven’t posted your HP review. Just saying ;]

    • fictionworms says:

      Now I understand what you mean 🙂 But no, this book is not like “What the Dog Saw”. According to Wikipedia, that book is a compilation of different articles originally published in The New Yorker, right? I think that there are many books like that, maybe you could look for something similar on Amazon, I think that I’ve seen some books like that there. I read one book of essays by Herman Hesse during the summer (I found it by chance on my grandma’s bookshelf) and I liked it a lot! Look, I’ve just looked up “What the Dog Saw” on Amazon, and I found these links on “Look for Similar Items by Subject”:

      You have A LOT OF BOOKS there 😀

      I am 17 (and a half) now, and I’ll start University when I’m 18 next year. Here we have six years of primary school, and six years of secondary school, so I guess that we have the K-12 education system. Anyway, I’m going to take a Major in Literature and Linguistics 🙂 and I can’t wait to start University! I am so sick of High School, you know. So thanks for your word of motivation 😀 I’m even more motivated now, haha. My older brother is studying accountancy at college, and my grandpa is an accountant too 🙂 And you know, here in Argentina you can choose among five different orientations for your three final years of High School. I chose Accountancy&Economics 🙂 It’s really interesting, and I’m glad I chose that. Though it is not actually my passion 😛

      I do celebrate Christmas, yes, but without snow, unfortunately 😥 I have seen snow just three times in my life I think, of which I only remember two xD It snows in many regions of Argentina during winter, but not my city (well, it snowed some years ago, but it was so so weird, it was the first time that it snowed here in centuries!).

      PS: And I don’t think I’m going to post that HP review soon 😛 I want to see it again first, but maybe I’m going to review all the previous movies before… so don’t hold your breath 🙂

      • Ben says:

        Thanks for the link, that was helpful. I never knew Amazon possessed such feature.

        Major in Literature and Linguistics? Although I know nothing about it except reading, writing, scrutinizing literary works, perhaps, I am so jealous! Are you planning to be a novelist? Pardon me, but can you tell me the job opportunities on that course?

        We will have a literature subject next year but I’m planning to have it this summer, which falls in April and May, alongside with some computer course. I’m just so excited.

        Also, can I ask if the subjects you will take in the college is solely related with your course or if there are other mandatory subjects, like minor subject perhaps? Its just that I’m working on an essay about K-12 Education System because our country is soon going to have one. I’m inspecting the various pros and cons. We’ll in our current system, in my first year college, both 1st and 2nd sem, I have ONE major subject and, well, other 5 or 6 minor subjects. I’m just wondering if we have the same system.

        Speaking of essays, I heard that western schools will write an admission essay to get to college. Have you thought of one?

        Economics is interesting but I don’t know about Accountancy. It sure is a lucrative job but so far its just office work and it will pretty much be boring on the real work place, as our teachers tells us. But yes, in some point, Accountancy is Fun.

        You mentioned that in three final years you get to choose 5 different orientations. What do you mean by that?

        We’ll I guess, despite the geographical differences, Christmas are always fun! XD

        PS: Same here. I want to see it again. However, I reckon it is already out in the theaters and it will be month before the DVD will be released. XD

  6. fictionworms says:

    When I tell other that I’m going to study that, they all ask the same: what are the job opportunities? xD Well, what I want to do is mainly research. My father is an electronic engineer and works doing research (like a scientist), and I know that I want to do something like that, but in Literature. It just seems so awesome to discover things nobody knew before! Maybe after my undergraduate course I could go for a PhD, I think I would love that. A time ago I got to know about a field called Comparative Literature, which deals with comparisons between literature from different countries, languages, periods of time, or even with other disciplines such as philosophy, history, or also with film, theatre, etc. It sounds kinda cool, doesn’t it? 😀 Anyway, I am so excited about it! Apart from dedicating to research you can also teach at University (doing it is usually compulsory, so that you do not only create knowledge but pass it to others). My goal is not exactly to be a novelist. Maybe I will be some time, who knows, but it’s not the idea I have in mind right now.

    Well, about what you asked about Universities here, it depens on which one you’re talking about. For instance, in the University of Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires is the capital of my country), you have an extra year at the beginning, which is for all the careers and deals with many different subjects, not only the ones that are related to your course. I think you have that extra year to compensate the deficits of your High School Education. That is to say, in that year you learn what you were supposed to learn in High School but you didn’t. You don’t have that in the University where I’m going to study. But there’s something unusual about my University too, and is that the profile of the student there is an integrate one. I mean, you don’t only learn about things about your course, but also have some subjects in common with other courses, like Phylosophy, History, a Computer course, Gym or Art, etc. So it depends a lot on the University. I don’t know if I answered your question, I’m not sure I understood it well.

    Admission Essay? What do you mean exactly? To get to University I have to take a three months course and take some exams (I’m starting next month with it! 🙂

    When you’re about to start your fourth year at High School, you get to choose among five orientations:
    1- Accountancy and Economics
    2- Art and Design
    3- Natural Sciences
    4- Social Sciencies and Humanities
    5- Technical School (you learn about electricity, mecanics, etc)
    No matter what orientation you choose, you have a lot of subjects in common, like History, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Literature and Linguistics, English, Geography, etc. Apart from those, you have other more specific subjects that are related to your orientation (from about three to five subjects each year). For example, as I chose Accountancy and Economics, I have subjects like Administration of Companies, Economics, Accountancy, etc.

    PS: I haven’t only not written the HP review, but ANY review at all lately xD I’m having lots of tests at school so I don’t have much time, but I’ll be back soon!

    • Ben says:

      Well, that’s really how I got my course with the question “What’s the job opportunities?”. I was keen to take Computer Science or Information Technology but I can’t find any decent model of that course to defend that my life will be good in the course. And so I choose Accountancy, but I’m not forced. I’m somehow enjoying it, but mostly gets bored especially now that the things gets technical. Its still get down on how you love your career. (Am I going off topic now? Haha)

      PS: I’m still waiting for the HP review XD. I know, its really hard to be a student you have to study for the exams and quizzes not to mention the strict deadline for projects. :]

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