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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  8,462 ratings  ·  1,145 reviews
Dr. Alfred Jones is a henpecked, slightly pompous middle-aged scientist at the National Centre for Fisheries Excellence in London when he is approached by a mysterious sheikh about an outlandish plan to introduce the sport of salmon fishing into the Yemen. Dr. Jones refuses, but the project, however scientifically absurd, catches the eye of British politicians, who pressur ...more
Hardcover, 334 pages
Published April 2nd 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2006)
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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
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
Claire Corbett
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
Mal Warwick
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
Connie  Kuntz
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,
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
Harsha Priolkar
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
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
Sarah Dorra
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
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,
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 (
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katie T
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-
Pris robichaud

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
Jun 28, 2012 Shutterbug_iconium rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aries Poon
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
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
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
Clare Cannon
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
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
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
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.

Read and Release at
As many others, I didnt even know this book exists. And then I saw THAT movie. It was a love at first sight- humorous, clever, very well played, “makes-me-feel-good” movie.
The book was big surprise as well. I really enjoyed Pauls dry humour, changing perspectives (I have never read a book consisting of e-mails, journal articles, diary excerpts, and interviews before), unique characters, and that crazy (but fabulous !) idea to write about introducing salmon project in Yemen.
This book was courag
There's something of an old-fashioned feel to this light satire, but that adds to the charm. The cast of characters is skilfully handled, with each character having authentically different personalities, and the frequent switches in narration and perspective keep it feeling fresh. The caricature of the Blairites isn't subtle admittedly, and in places the farce stretches credibility a little too much, but this book is clearly supposed to be a bit of fun. The ending might feel as though proceeding ...more
A quite original book, with an endearing tone: somewhat dry and ironical, but just short of caustic. The characters are drawn with elegant strokes: the earnest, humble, and dedicated fisheries scientist married to a coldly domineering financier wife whose offers just enough criticism to achieve her desired reproving effect. The Sheik from Yemen, no doubt drawn from a stereotype (I have never met a Sheik, so I don't know), but you just want to hug him. The female colleague who is such a contrast ...more
Amy Jane
Salmon. This book is about salmon. If you are interested in salmon you will like it. If not, then don't read it. I am not at all interested in salmon (unless in the form of a fish cake) but I had to read it for a book club. I knew before I had started it that I wouldn't enjoy it. The one star reflects that it wasn't exactly a badly written book, and that some may find the 'wit' and stereotypical characters amusing. However the attempt at a storyline, other than salmon fishing in the Yemen, faile ...more
It's always difficult when you saw the movie first; comparisons will be made. I know this book was well-loved upon publication, and probably since, but I was a bit surprised to see just how different this was from what went into the movie. No significant spoilers, but for example, Colin the gillie, who was a minor but important character in the book, did not make it to the screen. And the Maxwell character morphed from odious male to odious female for the film. There were quite significant diffe ...more
This book began boringly, but finished on a relatively high note.

I had to read it for bookclub. It's not a book I would have chosen to read. I find that titles can pull me in with mystery or humour or even a key word that suggests at something exciting within.

The word in the title that I found drew me most to this book was the word "The". So not the most promising start.

Fred Jones didn't help much in the beginning. He was henpecked, somewhat arrogant - but not enough to be strong in character -
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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)” 29 likes
“It would be so good to settle down and become part of somewhere again, instead of constantly passing through” 15 likes
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