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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  10,390 Ratings  ·  1,298 Reviews
What does it take to make us believe in the impossible?
For Dr. Alfred Jones, life is a quiet mixture of civil service at the National Centre for Fisheries Excellence and marriage to Mary—an ambitious, no-nonsense financier. But a strange turn of fate from an unexpected direction forces Jones to upend his existence and spend all of his time in pursuit of another man’s ludic
Paperback, 329 pages
Published 2007 by Phoenix (first published 2006)
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Rachel Well as the name suggests, it is actually about introducing Salmon fishing in the Yemen. It is an incredulous idea that a certain fisheries scientist…moreWell as the name suggests, it is actually about introducing Salmon fishing in the Yemen. It is an incredulous idea that a certain fisheries scientist tries to bring to life. It is a great read :)(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jan 30, 2008 Rose added it
The book got off to an interesting start, and held my attention, but I found it, ultimately, disappointing. Its biggest weakness was its lack of subtlety. For me, satire relies on an insidious subtlety that helps to separate it from outright farce. In this case, the satire would have been much more effective if it hadn't been applied so thickly. Some characters, especially Mary, never seem to be real people and are more like cartoon characters or pantomime dames - overdrawn and 2D, with their fa ...more
An absolute delightful parody/satire on politics, power and unlimited sources of money. An epistolary tale with high drama woven into the plot. I loved this relaxing read!

RECOMMENDED to lovers of British novels and everyone else who would enjoy the beautiful scenery of Yemen, and the intrigue behind belief of any kind.
Claire Corbett
Mar 22, 2012 Claire Corbett rated it did not like it
If I could give this book minus 10 stars, I would. Really hated this - meretricious sexist facile rubbish. The wife is a lazy stereotype, a cliched nag, the new girl smells like 'peaches.' Let's destroy the environment while having a bit of 'faith'. 'Faith' in the sense of not questioning, not using your intelligence. 'Faith' in the sheikh spending millions of pounds which belong to the people of the Yemen to fulfill his extravagant, trivial and ultimately cruel desires? Ugh ugh ugh. Exactly wha ...more
This was a great read! One of those books that is a good story right from the start. I was initially a bit surprised to see that the story was told through a collection of correspondence, diary entries, government documents, interviews and so on and this made me a little uncertain about this book, but that didn't last any longer than a couple of pages. I don't know why I was unsure about the format at first, as it reminded me a bit of 84, Charing Cross Road and The Guernsey Literary and Potato P ...more
Aug 06, 2016 Laure rated it it was ok
Well, having salmon introduced in the Yemeni waters is the least of the preposterous going-ons in this book. Where to start? It could have been a sweet story but the characters are not up to scratch - I found the politicians too inept to be true for example - and the epistolary style is full of unconvincing moments, and what about that ending, lol. Disappointing.
Connie  Kuntz
Aug 11, 2012 Connie Kuntz rated it it was amazing
I want to say something about adult conversation: I hate it. I hate the mind-games, the war words, the power struggles. I am fully aware of the fact that there is a lucrative quality to adult conversation, but I would rather be poor.

Now I want to say something about this book: I loved it, and it is about adult conversation. In fact, it is nothing but adult conversation. And even though I hate adult conversation, I loved every page of this book. I found it to be hilarious, compelling, political,
May 21, 2013 K rated it liked it
Recommended to K by: Mintzis
Meh. I guess I'll give this a three. It was okay I guess. But I didn't love it.

Maybe it's a function of the ADD/internet-addled generation, but the new epistolary novel seems to be a pastiche of e-mails, interviews, memos, etc., all of which are far more informative and lyrical than actual e-mails, interviews, and memos would be in real life. After tolerating this style in Where'd You Go, Bernadette and The Lawgiver, it's getting old for me and was a bit of a turnoff in Salmon Fishing in the Yem
Mal Warwick
Aug 14, 2011 Mal Warwick rated it really liked it
You know this, right? Yemen, previously called “The Yemen,” lies on the fringe of the Arabian Peninsula as is best known today as a world-class producer of sand, desert heat, and political violence. Salmon are, of course, cold-water fish that are challenging to catch with a rod and reel but taste all the better once caught. So, we’re on the same page, yes?

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
Dec 06, 2015 Liz rated it did not like it
Holy boring drivel, Batman!

Seriously, this book is boooooooring. I can see what Torday was going for, and there was clearly a great deal of research that went into the writing of 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen'. But unfortunately a well-researched subject matter and good literary intentions do not, a good novel, make.

His mish-mash of formats was, I believe, intended to liven up the story somewhat, and keep the reader interested by constantly changing the narrative voice. A good plan in theory, b
Harsha Priolkar
Jan 28, 2013 Harsha Priolkar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A fascinating tale of dreams and how they can sometimes consume us but most often will set us free, if only we let them!

So we meet Dr. Jones, a gentleman academic and scientist married to an obnoxious woman (I hate to say this about any woman, even a fictional one, but she is really just awful), who is thrust headfirst into a bizarre project at the whim of a wealthy sheikh. The sheikh who is a visionary, a wise man and a keen salmon fishing enthusiast (a potent combination), dreams of seeing sal
Dec 31, 2007 Nigel rated it liked it
A light enjoyable read that is easily devoured in a few sittings. It's a quirkily impressive debut novel from a 60 year old engineer/fisherman! It is laced with humour and optimism as well as taking a satirical swipe at Yes Ministering and spin doctoring. The format of diary extracts, emails, interviews and articles is used throughout to good effect to flesh out the story and main characters who are largely sympathetically drawn, though the machinations of the the PM's Director of Communications ...more
Oct 22, 2012 Marina rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, read-2012, politics
I really liked that book, but (and maybe that's because I read it after watching the film) I have a (wee) problem with the ending. Being the rest of the novel so cynical, surely a spark of hope at the end wouldn't be too much to ask?

The format of the novel is clever and entertaining (although I enjoyed some bits more than others, of course, my favourite bits being Fred's diary), and it makes the irony of it all even more obvious. Because what Salmon Fishin in the Yemen does is to point out all (
Jun 05, 2012 John rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 21, 2014 Hudson rated it liked it
Actual rating 3.5*

I would have rated this book a four but I did not really care much for the ending. It seemed to leap out at me rather quickly and then conclude in an uneasy fashion. The writing was really good and I thought the idea was pretty original (salmon fishing in Yemen? Absurd!!) I also really liked some of the characters: the scientist’s ultra dull wife and the British politician were very well done. This book is told from a lot of different points of views, from diaries and journals,
Sarah Dorra
Sep 12, 2011 Sarah Dorra rated it really liked it
A very good book, indeed. But what's best about it is not the plot but the fact that Torday knows both cultures, his British culture as well as the Middle Eastern culture (though I have to add that a few aspects are not correctly portrayed), very well.

I do like the personae of Sheikh Muhammad. He represents us when it comes to faith and belief: 'We believe that faith is the cure that heals all troubles.' However, he does not represent us when it comes to drinking wine, which is one of the terrib
Where was I when this came out in 2007? When I discovered this title recently in someone else’s TBR list, I immediately added to my own. The novel is an absurdist romp with a heart of gold (and romance). I belly-laughed through the first bits, looked askance at the portion where the Prime Minister’s aide imagines a quiz show in Pakistan, and couldn’t wait to find out the result of the ridiculous, bound-to-fail salmon fishery in Yemen. I wanted to believe, as the sheik says.

This worthy novel has
Feb 16, 2013 Forbular rated it liked it
Im not trying to convince anyone that this is a great piece of classical literature some of the charactrs are steriotypes, infact most of them in truth but it was witty engaging and fun and i loved some of the things it said about the middle east as its too often protrayed as a country of sexist terrorists by the tabloids.

I loved:
The seikh (sorry i cant remember how to spell that)
Collin the gilly (reminds me of a gilly i know)
The email & diary format was fun and quirky
The absurdity
Nov 30, 2010 Katie rated it did not like it
Shelves: novels
There were parts of this novel I liked - I thought the satire of bureaucratic pseudo-politeness was pretty funny, and I found the discussion of faith a little underdeveloped, but still interesting.

The female characters kind of killed it for me, though. Alfred's wife just seemed like a lazy cliche - I couldn't find her believable in the least. It seemed like she was being used mainly so we felt less guilty about wanting Alfred to get together with Harriet, who in turn also seemed to be being set-
Chester Dean
Sep 06, 2015 Chester Dean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, books-2015

Ewan McGregor es mi actor favorito en todo el mundo y he seguido su carrera desde que tenía 14 años (hace 16 años) y Salmon fishing in the Yemen es una de sus tantas películas, así que cuando vi el libro paseando por la librería, aunque me había prometido no comprar más libros en un intento de ahorrar, no me pude contener. Si me gustó la película, sabía que el libro me iba a encantar. Además de que era una edición de bolsillo bastante sencilla, y a mi me encantan ese tipo de ediciones, lo se
Jun 25, 2012 Shutterbug_iconium rated it liked it
Recommended to Shutterbug_iconium by: A great friend
“Samon Fishing in the Yemen.” was a quick read. I sort of liked it but I just thought it could have been so much better. I have just ambivalent feelings about this book.
I will just number what I thought.
1. Some characters, specifically Mary, did not seem to be real people to me either. I can understand why a woman can be so single-mindedly career-driven but Mary was just a cardboard cutout that I think Paul Torday wanted us to hate her. The sheikh character sounds like an overdrawn picture of a
Pris robichaud
Jan 03, 2009 Pris robichaud rated it it was amazing

he Fisherman's Chant, Impossibility and Belief, August 23, 2007
4.5 stars

The Fisherman's chant
Rod/reel,Flask/creel, Net/fly book/, And lunch!

"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

Jay Vent, the British prime minister, has his count
My Dad read a lot. But he read things you could learn stuff from (gardening, wildlife, natural history, woodworking, diy, history, military, politics, etc books) or biographies/autobiographies of sportsmen or military persons. So much so that when he passed away and my Mum came with us to his flat, she remarked that copy of The Bourne Identity was the first novel she had ever seen in his possession. And she had been married to the man for 15 years at one time.

So that being said, the only novel m
Aries Poon
Feb 02, 2013 Aries Poon rated it liked it
Should we believe in belief?

Belief is not necessarily religious. When you trust that something will happen or come before it actually does, you are believing in that something. Religions probably take up a huge chunk of examples, so do love and good human nature.

If you believe there is a Mr. or Ms. Right out there for you, you're believing in love and/or fate.

If you have confidence that you will achieve something which for now still appears way out of your league, you're also believing in a beli
Clare Cannon
Jan 30, 2012 Clare Cannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: adults
A lightly satirical novel about a rational scientist who unwillingly gets involved in an absurd fishing project at the request of the British Prime Minister. This project brings him into contact with a sheikh from Yemen whose simple, faith-inspired wisdom gradually melts the scientist's attitude.

However it is not a book to answer the questions it raises by pointing in any one direction, it only effectively stirs up thought about things which are complacently taken for granted in the western worl
Apr 07, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
This is an odd book. The premise is wonderful: a middle-aged male scientist is approached by a young-ish woman to help a Yemeni sheihk develop a salmon fishing experience for his countrymen. Add the lovely thoughts that it would be a miracle to bring this scenario to the Middle East. A miracle of science - but also a miracle of faith. I loved the main characters - genuine, well-developed, worthy of reflection. Beyond this, though, things get out-of-joint.

I think the author meant to highlight the
Vicki Jarrett
Jan 23, 2013 Vicki Jarrett rated it did not like it
This one is not for me. I found it unremittingly dull. I cannot conceive of why it has been so popular. I was actually on the verge of giving up on it after the first 40-50 pages. And I would have done so but the book had been lent to me so there’s a certain amount of obligation there to read it. Plus, I have a tendency to believe in books a little too much – keep thinking they’re going to redeem themselves somehow right at the end even if I’m really not enjoying the experience of reading. So, I ...more
Apr 11, 2009 Sasha rated it it was amazing
When Alfred Jones receives a letter from a real estate firm asking him to offer suggestions on how salmon fishing can be introduced in the Yemen, he rubbishes it. And so does the reader. Over the first thirty to forty pages of the book tremendous forces come together to make him acknowledge that yes, salmon can be introduced into the wadis of the Yemen. And that the man behind this astoundingly impossible suggestion, Sheikh Abdullah, might have a point.

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen is Paul Torday
Jul 06, 2012 Jon rated it liked it
I saw the movie a month or so ago, and thought it was OK, mostly because of very good performances from the lead actors. I then read a review criticizing it for very heavy-handed satire, unlike the light satire of the book, which was very popular in England but never caught on the US. So I thought I'd give the book a try. As far as satire goes, the movie was at least as good as the book, which contains many pages of memos, emails, and transcripts of parliamentary proceedings, all of which pall v ...more
Aug 06, 2013 Debra rated it it was ok
2.5 - 3 stars

After struggling to get through the first few chapters, this book turned out to be a quick read that unfortunately didn't completely satisfy.

Told from several points of view through emails, diary entries and transcripts of hearings and interviews, there are several connected story lines that touch on faith, politics, bureaucracy, war and love, but ultimately none of them ever take center stage. I found myself skimming through many of the technical fishing discussions and never rea
Nov 10, 2010 Hayes rated it really liked it
Another brilliant book from my buddies at Bookcrossing. 4 or 5 stars... not quite sure. RTF 4.5 stars

A boring English scientist who works as a civil servant for the Department of Fisheries (or something), his power-hungry wife, a filthy rich (but spiritual) Arab businessman and his personal assistant make for a bizarre cast of characters in this lovely story, presented through diary entries, emails, text messages, etc.

Absolutely charming. Highly recommended.

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Paul Torday burst on to the literary scene in 2007 with his first novel, SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN, an immediate international bestseller that has been translated into 28 languages and has been made into a film starring Ewan McGregor, Kristin Scott Thomas and Emily Blunt. His subsequent novels, THE IRRESISTIBLE INHERITANCE OF WILBERFORCE, THE GIRL ON THE LANDING, THE HOPELESS LIFE OF CHARLIE SUM ...more
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“Faith is the cure that heals all troubles. Without faith there is no hope and no love. Faith comes before hope, and before love. (Sheikh Muhammad ibn Zaidi bani Tihama)” 32 likes
“It would be so good to settle down and become part of somewhere again, instead of constantly passing through” 18 likes
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