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The Owl Killers
Karen Maitland
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Daniel James Brown
Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell
The Imperfectionists - Tom Rachman

A collection of short stories, The Imperfectionists tells the stories of the men and women working for a struggling international English language newspaper in Rome. While the stories themselves are those of the contemporary employees ranging from the Editor in Chief to the obituary writer and accounts payable, the in-between moments are woven through with vignettes depicting the newspaper's history.


I was rather surprised by this collection. The author set out to write a character driven book, and he accomplished it. I appreciate that he did not go out of his way to make these men and women likable. Which is not to say they aren't, it is just very clear that his intent was to give the reader an inside look at real people, their insecurities, flaws, and imperfections. Too often authors fall into the trap of making their characters too black or white, either all good or all bad, resulting in a caricature of human nature. Rachman does not do that, and we instead wind up with a realistic glimpse into the lives of people who are no different than you or me.


While the story does advance to a definite conclusion, this book is not for the readef who needs their books to be plot driven. It is all about the people who reside in its pages. I also don't think it is for anyone who does not enjoy short stories. Once upon a time, I thought that was me. I have since realized that I was wrong. A short story done well can be every bit as enjoyable and complete as a novel. This collection does a fine job at doing exactly that. If you enjoy short stories and character portraits, then I would recommend you give this book a look.