From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Imperfectionists, the story of a chameleonic writer desperate to finish her final book, and the indelible characters from her own life who intrude on those efforts with increasingly unpredictable results.
Dora Frenhofer, a once successful but now aging and embittered novelist, knows her mind is going. She is determined, however, to finish her final book, and reverse her fortunes, before time runs out. Alone in her London home during the pandemic, she creates, and is in turn created by, the fascinating real characters from her own life.
Like a twenty-first-century Scheherazade, Dora spins stories to ward off her end. From New Delhi to New York, Copenhagen to Los Angeles, Australia to Syria to Paris, Dora’s chapters trot the globe, inhabiting the perspectives of her missing brother, her estranged daughter, her erstwhile lover, and her last remaining friend, among others in her orbit. As her own life comes into ever sharper focus, so do the signal events that have made her who she is, leaving us in Dora’s thrall until, with an unforeseen twist, she snaps the final piece of the puzzle into place.
The Imposters is Tom Rachman at his inimitable best. With his trademark style—at once “deliciously ironic and deeply affectionate” (The Washington Post)—he has delivered a novel whose formal ingenuity and flamboyant technique are matched only by its humanity and generosity.
“When a Tom Rachman novel lands in the bookstores, I stop living and breathing to devour it. It’s hard to think of anyone who has a better grasp on the world we live in (and I mean, like, the entire planet) and can write about it with such entertainment and panache.” —Gary Shteyngart
About the Author
Tom Rachman is the author of three novels: The Italian Teacher, The Rise & Fall of Great Powers, and the New York Times bestseller The Imperfectionists. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Born in London and raised in Vancouver, Rachman worked at the Associated Press as a foreign-news editor in Manhattan and Rome before becoming a novelist. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. He lives with his family in London.
"Tom Rachman’s bustling, globe-trotting new novel manages to be about a writer’s life ending, quietly, lonesomely–even as it bursts with characters, plots, humor and drama. . . Rachman, a former A.P. foreign-news editor, has a far-and-wide imagination, and his novel is ingenious: investing a protagonist at the twilight of her life with grand, restless vision."—Vogue
"Rachman’s The Imperfectionists was a stunning elegy for newspaper journalism. Now, he turns his prodigious gifts to a novelist writing her own elegy through the scrim of dementia. Dora Frenhofer, 73 and at the end of a modestly successful career, decides to write her final book in her own voice “for a change,” each chapter about a different person in her life, and proves to be a highly critical — and perhaps highly unreliable — narrator."—Los Angeles Times
"With The Imposters, it’s as if Rachman is standing at the apex of his significant talent and sending his characters down the tracks of a roller-coaster, just to see where they land. Others may find it all to be screaming fun."—New York Times Book Review
“Readers who enjoy literary complexity will relish a book that reads like the love child of Cynthia Ozick and Tom Stoppard . . . This is a novel about storytelling, but it’s also about living. Kindness, cruelty, love, vanity, anger, loneliness and yes, sadness feature here. Rachman riffs brilliantly on art and the imagination, but he writes best about the human heart.”—The Washington Post
“Rachman’s nuanced exploration of creativity’s staying power, a writer’s inherent desire for relevance, and the marketplace’s malleable definition of success unfolds with refined subtlety through interconnected tales. The characters arguably each deserve of a novel of their own, yet it is Dora’s story Rachman focuses on with admiration and just a hint of awe.”—Booklist (starred)
"Reading The Imposters is like witnessing a high-wire alchemy act. Rachman breathes life into Dora Frenhofer, a lonely 73-year-old Dutch novelist, who then breathes life into her characters, who are themselves all writers—of poetry, of stand-up comedy routines, of fabricated news stories and restaurant reviews and sports articles. . . Rachman writes with generous gallows humor about deeply flawed people trying to make sense of their surroundings, often through the written word. His prose conveys a sense of joy, even when it pries into darker corners of human nature."—Publisher's Weekly
"A grand tapestry of humanity...From the author of The Imperfectionists and The Italian Teacher comes the story of an octogenarian novelist desperate to finish her final book before it’s too late—and gets the chance to do just that during an isolated Covid lockdown"—Eliza Smith, Lit Hub
“A tapestry of riveting fictional stories . . . Rachman deals with dark subjects — death, the fear of irrelevance, terror of the unknown — but this beautifully written work is not depressing. With precision and dexterity, Rachman unfurls Dora's potent legacy and builds a convincing argument for the power of art and storytelling.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“A romp around the world . . . Rachman's book . . . aims a critical eye at the written word."—Associated Press
“Rachman is observant and funny in his take on how parents and partners damage their loved ones. Yet, Dora — the failed mother, halfhearted romantic partner and unfulfilled author — remains an oddly likeable presence: “She specified herself to be Dutch, therefore allowed to be blunt.” Ultimately, this is a beguiling book about the wear and tear of disappointments and the transformative value of storytelling. Failure and loss, Rachman notes, can also be material. As can a pandemic.”—Financial Times
"Despite its existential sadness and profundity, The Imposters is entrancing, light, witty, and often laugh-out-loud funny. Rachman’s prose is graceful, lucid, and seemingly effortless. His narrative, set amid the surreal social distortions of the coronavirus pandemic, is gripping and original. . . The Imposters takes the trends, pleasures, and anxieties of the epoch from which it springs and weaves them into a story that compels the engagement of sensitive and intelligent readers."—Washington Examiner
"Clever and full of tricks from start to finish . . . The Imposters is Tom Rachman’s fifth book in just over a decade. It is also his best – full of twists and surprises . . . Whether it’s 1970s India, modern-day LA or Syria, Rachman has a good ear for place and time, and changes gear effortlessly. Each chapter is a short story in its own right, but when key characters turn up again elsewhere, the connection invariably is with Dora, until you start to wonder whether they might be the creations of this novelist, whose memory is perhaps not as bad as we thought."—The Spectator UK
Praise for The Imperfectionists
"An acute debut . . . Rachman paints the characters’ small dramas and private disappointments with humanity and humor."—The New Yorker
“Marvelous . . . A rich, thrilling book that is both a love letter to and epitaph for the newspaper world . . . Mr. Rachman’s transition from journalism to fiction writing is nothing short of spectacular. The Imperfectionists is a splendid original, filled with wit and structured so ingeniously that figuring out where the author is headed is half the reader’s fun. The other half comes from his sparkling descriptions not only of newspaper office denizens but of the tricks of their trade, presented in language that is smartly satirical yet brimming with affection.”—Janet Maslin, New York Times
Praise for The Italian Teacher
"Engaging and subtle . . . Rachman appears in perfect control of his material . . . engrossing, by turns gently humorous . . . The Italian Teacher is a psychologically nuanced pleasure."—New York Times Book Review
“An exotic touch of intrigue arises in The Italian Teacher . . . deliciously ironic and deeply affectionate.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“A poignant, touching tale about living in the shadow of a brazen artistic genius . . . Unforgettable.”—USA Today