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Books

A novel about the newsroom

Journalism may be a dying art, but novelist Tom Rachman breathes life back into the newsroom in The Imperfectionists, his debut novel. But don’t be mistaken; journalism has never seemed more unappealing than in Rachman’s chronicle of misfits. The book is set in Rome, the site of an international English-language newspaper, which was founded in the 1950s for mysterious reasons. Now, long past its heyday, the paper is host to a bevy of characters who limp along in their work and in their personal lives.

Each chapter is devoted to a particular character and member of the staff. Some of them include copy editor Ruby Zaga, who hides from her loneliness in hotel rooms, Editor-in-chief Kathleen Solson, a woman dealing with her husband’s infidelity, and publisher Oliver Ott, a recluse with an obsession with his dog.

The novel is all about character development, and Rachman’s portrayal of each journalist allows the reader to piece together an image of the quirky newsroom. The character development extends to the paper itself—the chapters are interspersed with flashbacks from the beginnings of the publication, when it was a bit more glamorous. Finally, the fate of the paper is revealed in the last chapter, along with why it was founded in the first place. Read the New York Times Sunday Book Review right here.