Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

The Imperfectionists

The newspaper these characters work for is dying. At least they get to live in Rome.

The Imperfectionists
By Tom Rachman
The Dial Press
272 pp., $25

About these ads

There are lots of newspapers famously hanging on by their fingernails – pummeled by the Internet, the economy, and all those bloggers willing to write for free – but the journalists at the English-language daily in The Imperfectionists are fortunate for two reasons: (1) They’re fictional. (2) They’re in Rome.

Brad Pitt reportedly has snapped up the movie rights to Tom Rachman’s wistfully incisive debut novel, which chronicles life at a true gray lady – not only has the newspaper not got its own website, it still publishes in black and white. Since it’s down to its last 10,000 subscribers, the paper is either a paralyzed relic of a bygone era or an uncompromising bastion of a vanished way of news-gathering. (Rachman is pretty clear upfront that the correct answer is not the second option.) “The Imperfectionists” strikes a tone that’s humorously painful, rather than painfully funny.

With its bittersweet satire set in the waning days of a once-flourishing enterprise, the novel calls to mind another recent workplace debut, Joshua Ferris’s “Then We Came to the End.” Less scathing than Evelyn Waugh’s classic “Scoop,” “The Imperfectionists” is a must-read for any rueful journalistic types hanging out in the hinterlands and wondering why they didn’t choose to study accounting or computer technology. (Oh, that’s right: There was all that math.)


Page:   1   |   2   |   3

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.