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Imperfectionists (Rachman) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for The Imperfectionists

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 corp to democracy? Is the egalitarianism of news reporting on the Internet a good thing...or not?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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