The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman

Once in a while, a book comes along that so captivates its readers as to render it impossible to put down. The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman, is such a book. The author, once an editor of the International Herald Tribune in Paris, and currently, an Associated Press correspondent stationed in Rome, depicts life at a fictional newspaper, from its inception in 1953 to its demise in 2007.
The founder, Cyrus Ott, is a mysterious millionaire whose true motives for starting the paper are vague. He leaves his wife and young son in Atlanta and calls together an old friend and her husband for a meeting.

"I want to talk about a newspaper."
"Which one?"
"My own," Ott answered. "I intend to start one. An international English-language newspaper. Based in Rome and sold around the world."

And so the story unfolds, and with it, the lives of the owners, editors, and reporters over the course of the next 50+ years. Each chapter, with a wonderful newspaper headline at the beginning, has a surprising twist. Together, they resemble interwoven short stories written by a literary master. We come to know and care about every character depicted--quite a feat for a fledgling novelist in his first book.

The Imperfectionists is a character-based novel which contains some mystery--namely, the true reason for the paper's inception. In the end, it is about the demise of a newspaper, the victim of mismanagement and the digital age. Yet, it is also about the surprises and pitfalls in life, the imperfections in us all, and ultimately, the resiliency of the human spirit.

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