The Imperfectionists: Book Review by Asha Seth

#MyThoughts: Sometimes, it’s good too take a chance with books and authors unheard of.

As a reader, I’m quite eccentric. If I’m trying an author for the first time, I check out their quotes. Well, and if the quotes stick with me, I’m likely to stick with the author. And then there are such quotes that make so much sense.

“You know, there’s that silly saying ‘We’re born alone and we die alone’ -it’s nonsense. We’re surrounded at birth and surrounded at death. It is in between that we’re alone.”

the imperfectionists
Image Credit: Goodreads

Now the review.

Many times, simple yet not-so-perfect situations take most of our time and energy in wanting to put things right. This exactly is the premise of Tom Rachman’s – The Imperfectionists.

Set in Rome, Italy, The Imperfectionists is about the inter-connected lives of the staff of an International newspaper which is on the brink of a shutdown.

With this, begins the almost tiresome yet captivating, dull yet witty, short stories on the personal lives of the journalists of this newspaper firm.

The Founder Cyrus Ott. rests the responsibility of running the firm on his grandson, Oliver’s shoulders. Oliver’s only concern in life is for his basset hound, Schopenhauer.

The correspondent Llyod Burko who has married 4 times and is struggling to make a living which his articles are clearly not capable of.  He is on the verge of betraying his son, the only one of his kids who hasn’t left him.

Arthur Gopal, an obituary writer who dotes on his daughter Pickle. He hates his job and yet when asked to travel to Switzerland to interview a dying author, he agrees hoping to find answers to questions on his life.

Herman Cohen is the corrections editor, a grammar nazi who is obsessed with having a style guide in place. A desperate-to-be-in-relationship business writer Benjamin Hardy who cares in the least that her Irish boyfriend along with his friends is stealing from her.

The copy editor Ruby Zaga is fearing that she’s going to be fired from her job but heaves a sigh of relief when she isn’t. She is stalking a man who had once kissed her but isn’t keen on a relationship with her. A forlorn 40-something seeking love in the wrong places.

The life of these journalists is spiraling down just like the fate of the newspaper they are working for. They know their talents are not enough to sustain life’s severity, let alone their job requirements. Hoping for some change in their loneliness, seeking companionship and a meaningful existence is what they are all after. Intricately woven tragicomic elements make The Imperfectionists more than an average novel.

The Imperfectionists is a novel that leaves you feeling sorry for the employees of the publication house.  The reader can’t help but get hooked to their plightful states, seeking an end to their daily turmoil. It keeps getting sadder and grim that you don’t want to read another page and yet you find yourself turning pages just so you know what happens in the end, which is quite tragic by the way. It is humorous and heart-breaking, all at once. And then there’s this timeless piece:

“It occurs to me that I’ve been wrong about something: I always assumed that age and experience weather you, make you more resilient. But that’s not true. It’s the opposite.”

Tom Rachman has himself been a journalist and knows the industry in and out. The way he has squeezed his observances and experience of the industry in the stories is simply brilliant. For a debut, his work is truly commendable! But I wouldn’t refrain from stressing that you need to read the book twice to really get what Rachman wants to say.

If you happen to read ‘The Imperfectionists‘ or have already read it, do share your thoughts below.

©The Musing Quill