Take your pick on what this novel is really about. An English newspaper operated out of Rome and its many different employees. Happiness - what makes you happy? Some of the protagonists would say just being in love, driving ambition at work, etc... Each chapter is devoted to a different character. However, they each have a particular arc. The chapter starts off happy and normal. Good things happen. Something unexpected and horrible happens. Move on to the next chapter. Some of these episodes can really be gut-wrenching. A woman who realizes she isn't very attractive overlooks some really glaring faults in her boyfriend just to say proudly that she has a boyfriend. A man belatedly succeeds in his job to cope with the death of his daughter. A long plane ride with a flirtatious couple ends in the chapter's last sentence as one of the most calculating and cruel twists you will never see coming. But if you see it from the other guy's point of view, is it still cruel?
Kate bought this book at the airport to survive a plane ride but put it down after 30 pages or so. I picked it up and liked it much better. The first chapter is by far the worst which is most likely why most people will quit this book. The title is also aptly coined; every character has significant imperfections which hinder their working and personal lives and frequently impact the lives of their coworkers around them. I never had the bug to be a journalist and feel comforted by that after reading these 'fictional' newspaper tales. The horror in these tales isn't necessarily because of the newspaper though, it's because of the people who work there and their personal failures.
The author is a journalist, or former journalist at least, and it shows in his writing. Short, crisp sentences. Remember Hemingway's style from The Sun Also Rises? Like that. Short.