Tom Rachman’s stunning debut is essentially a collection of short stories like Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, each a portrait of a different character, which taken together paint a portrait of a place – in this case, a struggling international newspaper headquartered in Rome.

Rachman, a veteran of such publications, makes the news office come to life, from the string of beleaguered editors to an over-the-hill foreign correspondent. But what really shines through in this book is how Rachman uses the milieu of a failing institution to explore the small personal tragedies each of his characters must deal with as their lives crumble around them.

Funny and poignant, this is one not to be missed.

Grade: A

The Imperfectionists is currently available.