Author Tom Rachman’s ‘Rise & Fall of Great Powers’ is a moving travelogue of a life

June 20

A former journalist who worked in New York, Rome and Paris, author Tom Rachman is as much a globetrotter as his multinational characters. His novels explore both the giddy highs of travel and the doldrums of a life abroad. Good news: You only have to trek as far as Politics and Prose to see him on Monday.

‘The Imperfectionists’ (2010)
We at Express know nothing, absolutely NOTHING, about the foibles of a small newsroom, so we’ll have to take Rachman at his word. His first novel, a series of linked short stories about an ailing Rome newspaper, scrutinizes the strong personalities behind its rise and fall, from fearsome editor-in-chief Kathleen down to paranoid copy editor Ruby, “who is sure that the entire staff is plotting against her, and is correct.”

‘The Rise & Fall of Great Powers’ (2014)
Tooly Zylberberg, erstwhile wanderer, tries to settle down in a small Welsh town. But she still grapples with questions about her childhood, spent continent-hopping with a motley band of shady characters: “Her past cohered so poorly. All she heard was inconsistencies, blank patches.” “Great Powers” manages to be suspenseful but not frenetic in pace, a balanced mystery whose readers can savor each moment of Tooly’s unfolding past.

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Kristen Page-Kirby · June 20