Seventh in a series of reviews of my 10 favorite books read in 2010, presented in alphabetical order.
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
Rachman's debut novel is the story of an international English-language newspaper in Rome, told through alternating threads: a series of biographical vignettes tracking the newspaper from its founding in 1953 to the economy of today’s print media; and a series of linked short stories involving the newspaper’s employees (and one reader).
The stories are terrific! Set within the workplace and outside in personal life, they involve lots of characters yet each is effectively unpacked -- background characters just enough to make them memorable, main characters enough to make the reader care; many are developed further as they appear again in later stories. They’re fast stories, with lots of dialogue and strong forward momentum. And Rachman isn’t afraid of tension -- in one, I was so engaged in the hilarious interaction between a high-energy correspondent and a passive, fledgling wannabe that I thought I was going to have a stroke!
These stories are among the most enjoyable fiction I read last year, and it’s a mere quibble that I felt Rachman prepared me for a finish slightly more “Wow!” than I got. I recommend it highly and am beyond eager to read more by him.
Review based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher