1. How did you feel when you encountered a protagonist from one chapter in a different key somewhere else? Did these moments ever catch you by surprise?
2. Why do you think Cyrus Ott started his newspaper? Why do you think his family kept it going?
3. Do you think Hardy Benjamin made the right decision to ignore the theft she uncovered? And which is more important in a relationship: love or honesty?
4. Is there a lesson to be learned in the story of Arthur Gopal's rise through the ranks?
5. What do you think kept Ruby Zaga in her job all those years? Is her persistence admirable?
6. At one point Herman Cohen muses: ""All this had been a most extraordinary surprise; he had expected an unhappy life, yet ended up with the opposite." What do you think accounts for his happy fate? Is it luck, or something else?
7. Do you think someone like the war correspondent Rich Snyder might gain fame and recognition despite his bad behavior -- or because of how he behaves? Would you rather be Snyder or Winston Cheung?
8. Do you see traits of any of the characters in people you've worked with?
9. How did the Roman setting inform the reading experience of The Imperfectionists? What do you think it would be like to be an expatriate?
10. What do you think the future holds for the newspaper? How has the way you receive news day to day changed in recent years?
Taken from The publisher’s web site http://www.randomhouse.com/book/137179/the-imperfectionists-by-tom-rachman#reader'sguide
More Discussion Questions
1. The book is a series of vignettes about 11 people in the newsroom of an unnamed paper. Yet The Imperfectionists is more than collection of short stories. How are the chapters connected? How does the book manage to cohere as a novel? Or does it? Perhaps you found it difficult to jump from one character to another—did you?
2. We find out at the end of the book why Cyrus Ott began the newspaper in 1953. Did you have suspicions all along...or were you caught by surprise?
3. Talk about how the headline for each chapter ties in with the fate of the character involved—particularly, say, the seemingly unrelated headline for Lloyd Burko: "Bush Slumps to New Low in the Polls."
4. Who are your favorite characters, the ones with whom you most sympathize—Kathleen Solson or Herman Cohen, perhaps? Who is the saddest—perhaps Ruby Zaga? What about your least favorite? Overall, does Rachman do a good job of fleshing out his characters—creating them as fully developed human beings? Do you come to care about any of them...some more than others?
5. What happens to Arthur Gopal at the end of the story? Why does he suddenly begin to perform beyond expectations? Why does he abandon his wife?
6. Why does Hardy never confront her boyfriend? Why does she let him get away with the theft of her belongings? What accounts for her attraction to him...in fact, is she in love with him?
7. Is Dave Bellig's behavior justifiable...or not? Was it fair that he was let go...which makes the CFO fair game?
8. Then there's Winston Cheung. Does he learn a valuable life lesson...or is he simply duped by a talented con-man? Do you find the story humorous...or irritating?
9. What is the significance of the title?
10. The fictional newspaper in this work serves as a metaphor for the press in general. Talk about the fate of newspapers— their future survival. What do you think will happen to them and why? What will be the impact of their possible demise? How important is a well-trained, professional press corps to democracy? Is the egalitarianism of news reporting on the Internet a good thing...or not?
Taken from Lit Lovers website http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/13-fiction/480-imperfectionists-rachman?start=3
The New Yorker magazine featured The Imperfectionists as their monthly book discussion title in July 2010.