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 breathtaking 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. As her 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" (Washington Post)—he has delivered a novel whose formal ingenuity and flamboyant technique are matched only by its humanity and generosity.
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 in New York and Rome, then at the International Herald Tribune in Paris, 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 is a contributing columnist to The Globe and Mail. He lives with his family in London.
"Smart, thoughtful and beautifully written . . . The Imposters is a spectacularly virtuoso achievement and Rachman’s finest novel." —Toronto Star
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
"[The Imposters] is imaginative and creative but also chilling and mercenary. . . . Despite its existential sadness and profundity, it is entrancing, light, witty, and often laugh-out-loud funny. Rachman's prose is graceful, lucid, and seemingly effortless. His narrative . . . is gripping and original. He conjures complete and engaging characters as fast as any other fiction writer I can think of." —Washington Examiner
"The Imposters . . . is like witnessing a high-wire alchemy act . . . he 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. . . . Rachman's writing combines the best of both worlds: the external observational prowess of journalism, and the interiority of literature. The Imposters has both a specific sense of time and place—many places, actually—and a deeper knowledge of human nature and its foibles." —Publishers Weekly
"A grand tapestry of humanity." —Literary Hub
"An intricately braided narrative that constantly suggests new possibilities about the factual underpinnings of fiction. . . . The compassion for damaged souls that suffused such earlier Rachman novels as The Rise & Fall of the Great Powers and The Italian Teacher is still in evidence here. . . . Rachman's prose is lucid and elegant, as always." —Kirkus Reviews
"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." —The Spectator (UK)
"I absolutely loved The Imposters. It's terrifying, and yet made me laugh so hard. Tom Rachman is a wonderfully knowing writer, at home in half a dozen societies other than his own; and yet, The Imposters is a severe (at times hilarious) indictment of shallow cosmopolitanism, of the cruelty and disregard that can underlie the veneer of fluency in a global world, of failing to truly see the myriad peoples we find ourselves thrown amongst." —Aatish Taseer
"If like me you were a big fan of Tom Rachman's rollicking The Imperfectionists, you'll want to leap on his new novel, The Imposters. It's clever and funny and ingeniously constructed, also heartfelt: Rachman is a wizard at displaying jaundiced affection for his characters. And the dialogue zings along with an enviably Stoppardian zest. I couldn't have enjoyed myself more." —Benjamin Dreyer, New York Times bestselling author of Dreyer's English
"Tom Rachman surpasses the already astonishing achievements of The Italian Teacher. His satire is often brutally funny, but always rooted in a humane acceptance that our flaws are what make us us. This is a dizzying switchback tale of our vanities and vain ambitions but also a deft illustration of the consolations (and condolatory revenges) of fiction. Dora Frenhofer, the relentless, failing novelist who powers the book along, is a spiky, courageous creation who will win Rachman the readership he deserves. Very sad the ride is over!" —Patrick Gale