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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Paperback – April 21, 2008
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Dr. Alfred Jones is a fisheries scientist in Great Britain who is called upon to find a way to introduce salmon into the desert in Yemen. The Yemeni sheikh will spare no expense to see this happen. He says:
It would be a miracle of God if it happened. I know it... If God wills it, the summer rains will fill the wadis... and the salmon will run the river. And then my countrymen... all classes and manner of men--will stand side by side and fish for the salmon. And their natures, too, will be changed. They will feel the enchantment of this silver fish... and then when talk turns to what this tribe said or that tribe did... then someone will say, "Let us arise, and go fishing."
Such is the sheikh's vision. He tells Alfred: "Without faith, there is no hope. Without faith, there is no love." Alfred has no religious faith and has been mired in a loveless marriage for twenty years, so these words seem fantastic to him.
Alfred and Sheikh Muhammad connect immediately through their mutual love of fishing, despite Alfred's misgivings about the viability of the project. The Prime Minister's flack man tells Alfred that he must persevere and succeed because Great Britain needs some positive connection to the Middle East, something other than a failing, flailing war. These kinds of political alliances are always shaky at best, and when things start to go sideways, allies have a way of disappearing. Alfred soldiers on, with the help of the lovely Harriet, Sheikh Muhammad's land agent, and the project is readied for opening day, when the Sheikh and the Prime Minister will have a 20-minute photo op.
All of the faith and good will in the world cannot overcome the forces ranged against them, bringing tragedy to everyone involved. Despite all, Alfred's interior life is changed immeasurably. He says in the end: "I believe in it, because it is impossible." --Valerie Ryan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The story, told in fragmentary style through emails, diaries, memos and extracts from unpublished books, becomes complex, as several plots unfold involving Harriet's fiance posted on military duty in Iraq, Alfred's marriage to workaholic sourpuss Mary who is similarly on duty - to her job - for a bank in Geneva, the machinacions of political spin and Al Quaeda, who oppose the project as it is ungodly. All of this is right on the topical money. The story of Harriet's fiance, Robert, in particular has special topical relevance in light of the March 2007 hostage crisis in Iran when British servicemen were accused of straying into Iranian territory. The quality of the prose sags in places, and its tone is somewhat Pooterish in the style of those gentle oh so polite English novels of the earlier 20th Century, much satirised by Cyril Connolly. 'I was somewhat alarmed to discover that...' Elmore Leonard, this ain't.Read more ›
The absurdity begins on the first page, when mild-mannered and unimaginative Dr. Alfred Jones, a fisheries specialist, receives a letter asking for his participation in a project to introduce Scottish salmon and the sport of salmon fishing into the wadis of the Yemen during the yearly rains. Alfred finds the whole idea ludicrous and ignores the letter, until the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and eventually the prime minister weigh in. The PM's office favors this effort for its "environmental message," the new links it will forge to a Middle Eastern country, and not incidentally, the huge, positive news story that may push stories of Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia off the front page.
Through letters, e-mails, memos, diary entries, newspaper articles, records of the House of Commons, interviews, and even intercepted al-Qaeda e-mail traffic, the story of Alfred's efforts to create a suitable environment for salmon in the mountains of western Yemen unfolds.Read more ›
Now consider the chances of finding a novel that adroitly mixes not just Yemen and salmon fishing but also the British Parliament, Al Qaeda, a mystical sheikh, the art of public relations, a sad love story, and a journey of self-discovery. Before I read this book, I would have defied anyone to accomplish that seemingly impossible task. But Paul Torday has managed to do so, brilliantly, producing a satirical treatment of British politics that is alternately affecting and screamingly funny.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is the first of British author Paul Torday's six novels to date. Written when he was 59 years old at the end of a successful business careeer, the book reportedly allowed him to write about what he knows best (as every teacher urges in Creative Writing 101). As you might guess, what Paul Torday appears to know best are salmon fishing and the Middle East, and the resulting novel is the unique expression of a genuine talent.
Classically loyal to the concept of bureaucratic ploy, the plot of the book delivers a contradictory premise: evidencing a government bureaucracy becoming involved and fulfilling a "dead at arrival" concept of infusing salmon (a cold water fish) to the hot arid lands of Yemen.
Conscripted by his government to aid in the development of a sheikh's passion to deliver fish of the northern hemisphere to his equatorial land, the protagonist, Dr. Alfred Jones, initially eschews the requests demanded of him. It is preposterous, he thinks -as does anyone else. To be called upon to deliver an act which would ordinarily be deemed an exclusive right for the almighty, Dr. Jones understands that he needs to keep his job and thereupon surveys the concept and architects the impossible dream. And, does it become realty? You will have to read it to find out.
The writing style is what makes this book both comical and seemingly relevant. It includes: numerous e-mails between Jones and his career-driven Oxford educated (he is too) wife who leaves his home for an opportunity to make even more money than he does (a fact she too often reminds him about in their e-mail correspondence); journal entries by the protagonist; articles from various newspapers; transcripts of television accounts; transcripts of interrogations relating to criminal and other acts; intergovernmental memoranda; intergovernmental e-mails; and (my favorite), transcripts of Parliamentary sessions which involve the salmon issue as well as lost soldier Robert - whose betrothed works with Dr. Jones.
The prose often delivers other delicious items.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Dear Readers, If you are a total fan of the movie by the same name and it is a go to view for you with a charming finish, DO NOT READ THE BOOK. Read morePublished 14 hours ago by Peach
Believe seems to be the main message of this book. I love that the main character, in the end, is finding contentment with less of a modern life.Published 6 days ago by Nise Prince
I really enjoyed this, but am still trying to figure out if this is a comedy, a tragedy, or both.Published 8 days ago by Fred Mendez
Great book. The tangible British humour and mannerisms added to the enjoyment. I was left wandering till the end what the outcome would be. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jamie
We saw the movie first and were eager to read the book. Much of it was written as alternating letters, e-mails, or memos which made it a bit difficult to read aloud to each other. Read morePublished 9 months ago by The Book Slug
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a superficial, entertaining film with predictable Hollywood endings.
The acting was good. The writing clever. Read more
This book was unusual in that the movie was, in my opinion, better than the book.Published 10 months ago by Pete Smith