The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Somewhere, on some blog or review site, I read that this book was hilarious. I almost stopped listening to it because, frankly, it wasn’t funny. It’s intriguing and well-crafted, but not funny. Yes, there are some periods of biting dark humor that make you chortle despite yourself, but hilarious it is not. Typically I would stop listening to something that isn’t “as promised” but it was so good I kept going, and I’m glad I did.

The book is comprised of a number of short stories. Each is a glimpse into the life of a person working at an English language international newspaper in Italy. Some stories are touching, a few are tragic, and some are just plain absurd. It’s interesting how the author interweaves these stories so you have recurring characters, but not like you would in a typical novel. The structure of the book reminded me of Olive Kitteridge. The newspaper itself is a character in the novel. As a reader we follow the newspaper from day one to the last day of publication, although not in chronological order. It’s more like building block order since one person’s story somehow relates to another, and another, and so on.

Again, if you’re looking for funny, go elsewhere. But if you’re looking for glimpses of interesting lives, you’re in for a treat.