MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Imperfectionists

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Imperfectionists

A Novel

by Tom Rachman

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman X
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2010, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2011, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby
Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

This article relates to The Imperfectionists

Print Review

BookBrowse's 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, but lack the supports that your own culture offers. This makes expats a tight-knit bunch. However, the individual's experience can also be deeply isolating. That theme - being among people yet feeling alone - fascinates me; perhaps it is something I've felt. And it can occur anywhere, not only abroad. One might feel it at work, among acquaintances, even within a family.

BB: In an interview with The Australian you mention the cynicism that permeates the news world, and the imperfection of the enterprise and the characters that inhabit it. What was it like to balance the portrayal of this sometimes ruthless job and the desire to render the characters as endearing?

TR: Working in news is strange: journalists bump up against huge issues every day, yet remain rooted in smaller, personal issues, worrying about slights from colleagues, about promotions, about late buses, about what's for dinner. Their lives straddle the tremendously important and the tremendously trivial. It's inevitable; it's how humans respond. The consequence for journalists is often burnout or cynicism. When I imagined my characters, I didn't conceive of them as likeable or unlikeable, but tried only to understand them. Unexpectedly, this had the effect of making me sympathize even with those who, had I met them in real life, might have been tough to love.

BB: Lest the reader imagine it is a bleak book, resilience is also a strong quality that emerges. How did Arthur Gopal's arc come about?

Read the rest of the interview

Article by Karen Rigby

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Imperfectionists. It originally ran in April 2010 and has been updated for the January 2011 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Island of Sea Women
    by Lisa See
    Lisa See's latest novel, The Island of Sea Women, follows the lives of Mi-ja and Young-sook, two ...
  • Book Jacket: Race Against Time
    Race Against Time
    by Jerry Mitchell
    Jerry Mitchell spent nearly three decades trailing cold cases from the Civil Rights Movement. As a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Resisters
    The Resisters
    by Gish Jen
    Gish Jen's The Resisters depicts a future United States, dubbed AutoAmerica, where climate change ...
  • Book Jacket: The Mercies
    The Mercies
    by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
    It's 1617 and a violent storm has claimed the lives of 40 fishermen off the coast of Vardø, a ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    And They Called It Camelot
    by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    An unforgettable portrait of American legend Jackie O.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Mountains Sing
    by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

    An enveloping, multigenerational tale set against the backdrop of the Viet Nam War.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Things They Carried
by Tim O'Brien

The classic, ground-breaking meditation on war and the redemptive power of storytelling.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Mostly Dead Things

Mostly Dead Things
by Kristen Arnett

"Hilarious, deeply morbid, and full of heart."
- BuzzFeed

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Die I C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.