Book Review: The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman

It’s widely said that the short story is dead, or alternatively, that it’s alive but almost impossible to get published. One way round this, as Ishiguro and others have shown, is to write a series of short stories around a theme. They may then be accepted as a novel. Tom Rachman has essentially done the same, though the unifying theme is quite strong and the series of stories collectively tell a single story of the rise and fall of a newspaper, based in Rome but apparently English-language. All the main characters work for the paper and the main character in one story may well reappear in a minor role in another.

This requires some plotting skill and it’s neatly done. The characters ring true, the dialogue is realistic and revealing and while the overall tone is often sad, it’s never desperate or dull.

This was Tom Rachman’s first book, or at least his first published one. He must have been practicing.