Tom Rachman was born in 1974 in London but grew up in Vancouver. He studied cinema at the University of Toronto and completed a Master's degree in journalism at Columbia University in New York. From 1998, he worked as an editor at the foreign desk of The Associated Press in New York and then did a stint as a reporter in India and Sri Lanka before returning to New York. In 2002, he was sent to Rome as an AP correspondent, with assignments taking him to Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Egypt. Beginning in 2006, he worked part-time as an editor at the International Herald Tribune in Paris to support himself while writing fiction. He now lives in London, where he is working on his second novel.
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Karen Rigby interviews Tom Rachman
BB: How has studying cinema informed your writing?
TR: At college, I majored in film studies, so movies certainly affected how I tell stories. One strength of cinema is its speed: a movie must grip you and tell a story fast; it ought to pull you completely into the onscreen world. Movies have limits, though, struggling to move beyond what can be seen and what can be heard. The written story allows you to venture more deeply inside characters - a novel explores those aspects of people that, in day-to-day life, we cannot easily see or hear. This is what I hoped to do in The Imperfectionists, to bare the thoughts of a range of people who weren't necessarily shrieking but who were worth hearing. If my book also contains something of the pacing and directness of a good film, then I would be very happy.
BB: In many of the stories, relationships decline after pivotal events or quieter, emotional realizations. Rather than romanticizing the expat experience, they explore loneliness, infidelities, and death, among other struggles...
TR: Life overseas (the novel is set in Rome) can be thrilling and disheartening, liberating and constricting. You have the freedom to invent yourself...
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