‘Off the record, who is it?’
He hesitates. ‘I don’t see why you need to know.’
But he does see, of course.
‘It’s my son.’
Their chuckles are audible over the speakerphone. ‘Are you serious?’
Lloyd Burko is having troubles with his sources, with his technology at the paper, and with his family. The Imperfectionists is a novel about the peculiar people who write and read an international newspaper based in Rome: from the obituary reporter who will do anything to avoid work, to the dog-obsessed publisher who seems less interested in his struggling newspaper than in his magnificent basset hound, Schopenhauer. While the news of the day rushes past, the true front-page stories for all of them are the blunders and triumphs of their own lives.
Tom Rachman’s debut novel is beautifully written, intelligent, and makes us care about people who are both flawed and immensely engaging—about their lives, their families, and about the larger family that is their newspaper.
The Imperfectionists touches on the fall of newspapers and the rise of technology but, above all, it is a wise and moving novel about unusual, endearing characters.
‘The Imperfectionists joins that short list of fine novels about journalism, which includes Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop…’
‘Rachman paints the characters’ small dramas and private disappointments with humanity and humour.‘
‘So good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off…The novel is alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching.’
‘The Imperfectionists is a precise playful fiction, with a deep but lightly worn intelligence.’
‘The Imperfectionists is a winning mixture of warmth, wit, poignancy, quiet insight and powerful melodrama.’
‘The Imperfectionists will strongly satisfy…a magnificent tribute to the fall of newspapers.’
‘A clever critique of the newspaper industry, and a fascinating character study into damaged people.’
‘[A] zinger of a debut…Chapters read like exquisite short stories, turning out the intersecting lives of the men and women who produce the paper…there are more than enough sublime moments, unexpected turns and sheer inky wretchedness to warrant putting this on the shelf next to other great newspaper novels.’ (starred review)