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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen [Hardcover]

Paul Torday
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (251 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Feb 2007

This is the story of Dr Alfred Jones, a fisheries scientist - for whom diary notable events include the acquisition of a new electric toothbrush and getting his article on caddis fly larvae published in 'Trout and Salmon' - who finds himself reluctantly involved in a project to bring salmon fishing to the Highlands of the Yemen ¿ a project that will change his life, and the course of British political history forever.

With a wickedly wonderful cast of characters - including a visionary Sheikh, a weasely spin doctor, Fred's devilish wife and a few thousand transplanted salmon - Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a novel about hypocrisy and bureaucracy, dreams and deniability, and the transforming power of faith and love.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 323 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; First Edition edition (1 Feb 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297851586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297851585
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 14 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (251 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Torday was born in 1946 and read English Literature at Pembroke College, Oxford. He spent the next 30 years working in engineering and in industry, after which he scaled back his business responsibilities to fulfil a long-harboured ambition - to write.

He burst on to the literary scene in 2006 with his first novel, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, an immediate bestseller that has been sold in 19 countries.

He is married with two sons by a previous marriage and has two stepsons and lives close to the River North Tyne.

Product Description

Review

It's hilarious and so well observed (Sir Christopher Meyer)

'A most diverting debut - ingenious, witty and moving, Yes Minister meets Monarch of the Glen.' (David Profumo)

'A wonderful book - a cry for humanity in our target-driven spin-riddled world.' Marina Lewycka (Marina Lewycka author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian)

I really loved this book. (Bill Nighy)

It is light, but succeeds in an ambitious project: making a book about fishing readable, even touching. Fish may not be your bag, but it is the capacity for commitment and belief that makes for good reading. (Nadia Saint NEW STATESMAN (22.1.07))

[a] wickedly comic first novel about the power of money and the miracle of faith. (SAGA (February))

This is a wonderful, enjoyable read...Written in a highly accessible pastiche of memos, letters, interview excerpts, journal entries and emails, Fishing, encompasses everything from the science of salmon spawning to the war in Iraq. But all these elements merely give structure to the story: a lovely musing on how risking it all - however much it may be perceived as foolish or ridiculous, can bring hope and faith and love to the most bleak of outlooks... (Daneet Steffens SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY (28.1.07))

[Salmon Fishing...] captivates the grumpiest reader within moments...if you imagine The Office crossed with Yes, Minister, you may get some inkling of how very funny it is...the intelligence, inventiveness and humanity of this novel in comparison to the usual run of literary fiction is as wild salmon to the farmed. (Amanda Craig TELEGRAPH (27.1.07))

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen has elements that were once familiar in numerous comic novels: a hapless innocent caught up in political machinations; an exotic setting; an upper-class girl for the romantic interest. But the political machinations here have a contemporary flavour. (Nicholas Clee TLS (2.2.07))

Entertaining storytelling with great characters and laugh-out-loud plot. (Fanny Blake WOMAN & HOME (March 2007))

Paul Torday's bizarrely moral debut offers whimsy, sitcom humour, numerous swipes at the two-faced carry on of egocentric politicians - including a joke, Blair-like prime minister - and more than a love song to the noble art of angling as practised by dreamers and romantics. it also suggests that anything can be attempted, providing someone is willing to pay. (Eileen Battersby IRISH TIMES (3.2.07))

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is an entertaining and successful debut... it is warmly recommended to anyone searching for feelgood comedy with surprising bite. (Matt Thorne SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (4.2.07))

[a] charming narrative. (Alexandra Heminsley THELONDONPAPER ( 6.2.07))

[a] clever, original and funny novel...A magical debut. (PSYCHOLOGIES (March 2007) *****)

"At last an Evelyn Waugh for the 21st century. Paul Torday is funny, humane, poignant and one of the most original writers in the UK today. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen reinvigorated my already abiding love of contemporary fiction and I am gratfeul to Mr Torday for it. I urge each and every one of you to buy this book and then sit on the nearest seat to the till and read it, really" Paul Blezard - Oneword Radio. (Paul Blezard)

[a] wonderful first novel...really funny...a book you can't put down easily. Torday has an easy command of the gripping twists that play readers through the streams of a story, and at the same time he's a master of character...a tour de force. (Lucille Redmond EVENING HERALD (Dublin, 27.1.07))

This highly original novel blends satire with gentle humanity in a tale of what happens when idealism meets self-serving politics and bungling bureaucracy...A stunning debut. (Clare Colvin DAILY MAIL (9.2.07))

This is a book of considerable charm, an echo-chamber of a dozen different voices adroitly ventriloquised...[it's] a moral tale about the importance of believing in something and the comparative importance of everything else. (John Walsh INDEPENDENT (9.2.07))

[a] delightfully funny debut...It's funny, ambitious, multi-layered and quirkily imaginative, yet still - especially in the case of a sub-plot featuring a deniable British raid inside Iran - frighteningly relevant. (David Robinson THE SCOTSMAN (10.2.07))

[a] remarkable, unusual debut novel about political spin and unlikely dreams brought vividly to life... [Torday has] a rare talent. (Rodge Glass HERALD (10.2.07))

[a] tender hearted book...[and a] thoroughly enjoyable debut. (Lucy Atkins SUNDAY TIMES (18.2.07))

suffused with warmth; with magic and a fond quirkiness...This is a clever book encompassing sport, political spin and scientific experimentation. Torday's ease with language is masterful; and he has a beautifully judged sense of place...There's a clever sense of denouement, but ultimately it's the characters that make this page-turning tale shine. (Sue Leonard IRISH EXAMINER (Cork, 10.2.07))

[this] gentle novel explores the meaning of faith in the modern world...[it] is most enjoyable when the focus is on the riverbanks of Scotland and the Yemen. Torday describes the routines of fly-fishing - of gillies and smolts, riffles and glides - to great effect. (AM Kaye TIME OUT (21-27 February))

Paul Torday's debut novel is about an impossibility...And the remarkable thing is that a book about so deeply serious a matter can make you laugh, all the way to a last twist that's as sudden and shocking as a barbed hook...As with all good comedy, there's a tragic underside...And there is satire...To write a novel lampooning the looking-glass world of Blairite government must have given Torday as much gruesome fun as he gives his readers...Salmon Fishing is extraordinary indeed, anda triumph. (Tim Mackintosh-Smith GUARDIAN (24.2.07))

[Salmon Fishing... is] really something exceptional. I know it's only February, but this has to be one of the books of 2007. It has everything I can ask for in a book and one of the most surprising endings that I have ever read. (WWW.THEBOOKBAG.CO.UK)

an amusing satire on the tensions between the West and the Middle East, and a commentary on the value of belief to mankind...The success of the book lies in the charm of Mr Torday's storyline - his love of salmon fishing shines through his text - and his skill at portraying the petty officialdom and manipulativeness of modern government. Adding breadth is a sharply drawn cast of characters... (THE ECONOMIST (3.3.07))

A hilarious and pithy expose of political hypocrisy and bureaucratic wheeler-dealing, the novel also explores the deeper questions of human existence as Alfred, a fish out of water himself, finds his life and perspective irrevocably altered by his experiences. (GOOD BOOK GUIDE (March 2007))

A wonderfully engaging and extraordinary tale of love, fly-fishing and political spin. Torday treated the judges to a novel that was poignant and hugely entertaining in equal measures. (Judges BOLLINGER EVERYMAN WODEHOUSE PRIZE FOR COMIC FICT.)

Book Description

An extraordinary, beguiling tale of fly-fishing and political spinning, of unexpected heroism and late-blooming love - and of an attempt to prove the impossible, possible.

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First Sentence
Dear Dr Jones We have been referred to you by Peter Sullivan at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Directorate for Middle East and North Africa). Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
122 of 127 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, witty and subversive 30 July 2007
Format:Paperback
On the surface a light-hearted comedy, but beneath the superficialities lurk darker themes.

Dr Alfred Jones, a fisheries scientist, is low down the pecking order of a civil service office where bullying is the norm. Furthermore, he can no longer avoid the painful truth that his wife cares more about her career and bank balance than she does about him.

When he is instructed to assist in introducing salmon to the Yemen, a scheme which appears doomed to failure, it feels to Fred like one more burden, heavier than most. But as things progress, he learns about faith, overcoming obstacles, and love.

The story is told in a series of emails, diary entries, and interview transcripts. Torday has mastered this deceptively simple method, it adds immediacy, and results in a lightness of touch and to-the-point style reminiscent of (but so much better than) Bridget Jones's diary.

In his protrait of our leaders, the irony tips over into cynicism, (accurately reflecting public opinion I would say). The prime minister is somewhat delusional, neither bright enough nor sufficiently honest with himself to recognise the limits to his power. His director of communications is even worse. No means are too vile to justify the end of furthering his boss's reign.

Although there is a certain flippant tone to the whole book, (the Jihadis are particularly clichéd), Torday's depiction of traditional Arab and Islamic culture is very respectful.

A good summer read, unexpectedly rewarding.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Fisherman's Chant, Impossibility and Belief 23 Aug 2007
By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
The Fisherman's chant
Rod/reel,Flask/creel, Net/fly book/, And lunch!

"Here, in Yemen as well as lairds and castles, we have mists and glens, kilts, dirks and the odd feud or two. But unlike in Scotland the rain is considerate, coming at known seasons and times of day. It is also somewhat sparing, and there are no natural lochs or permanent rivers, and certainly no salmon (except smoked, on HBM ambassador's canapes). So Paul Torday's debut novel is about an impossibility. It is also about belief in the impossible, and belief itself. And the remarkable thing is that a book about so deeply serious a matter can make you laugh, all the way to a last twist that's as sudden and shocking as a barbed hook"
Tim MacIntosh-Smith

The road from Impossibility to Belief can be a long one. Jay Vent, the British prime minister, has his country in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and dug himself in a deep hole. And, he goes on digging. The Prime Minister's PR person hears that a wealthy Yemeni sheikh, is planning to introduce salmon to his land, and he spots a perfect photo opportunity, front page stuff. The sheik's plan has to be made to work. The initial proposal was drafted by Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, the sheik's land agent, who is polite and promises "no unreasonable financial constraints". The responsibility for the success falls on the shoulders of Dr. Alfred Jones, fisheries scientist. He is also a husband of Mary, a high roller in international banking who observes the world in very practical terms. They have lived a "calm and settled relationship" between "two rational and career-minded people." Alfred Jones, of course, points out that the project will be a hugely expensive flop. The sheik's belief is an allegory for the journey towards God.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooked..... 11 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback
I loved this book, which I read in a single day in between digging spuds and plaiting onions. This would be the perfect read to devour while lying on a hot beach somewhere, well, hot; or lying in a hammock in an English summer idyll while bees hum and warm wind blows across the sweet grass. Critics will be able to find faults if they wish, but I am a glass half-full man personally. I have also spent much time in the Middle East and happily recognised the authoritative tone of another well-travelled author who has soaked up the atmosphere like a sponge, and then gently squeezed it out -- spices, smells, heat and dust alike -- over his manuscript. Each page made me want to turn to the next, and if that is not the definition of a really gripping book I am a bit of a loss to think up another. The story, told (as noted below) in various communications' media reads like a film script: I could actually see the events unfold, which I liked enormously. The absence of graphic sex scenes was a welcome relief and complemented the deliberately cool, calm -- almost serene -- tone of the storytelling. The whole idea of transplanting salmon to Yemen and to persuade them to swim up a wadi is absolutely barking, and therefore a brilliant plot device, as the author's grasp of engineering detail is put to good use; so much so the whole incredible concept becomes a credible outcome. And when this is linked to the Sheikh's philosophical view that fishermen tend to be gentle and peaceable, and therefore introducing his people to this concept has got to better than settling arguments with an AK-47 or RPG-7 (which are weapons of choice of some of the tribes) then the whole Alice in Wonderland fable folds neatly around itself. Read more ›
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