Books, Interrailing 2016

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen – Paul Torday

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 ludicrous dream. Can there be salmon in the Yemen? Science says no. But if resources are limitless and the visionary is inspired, maybe salmon fishing in the Yemen isn’t impossible. Then again, maybe nothing is.

I saw the film Salmon Fishing In The Yemen ages ago, and enjoyed it, but I didn’t know until we got a copy in the library that it was based on a book. I bought a copy for my kindle and read it in Vienna and Ljubljana, and finished it in a park there while Lauren was being interviewed for telly about Pokemon Go. Because of course she was.

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen has an interesting format – it’s all in memos, and emails, and transcripts from interviews. This makes it choppy, and kept me engaged, which I wouldn’t have expected – I generally find it a tricky format. The story, and the emotional impact of various events, was harder-hitting than I remembered from the film, but it’s a lovely, mostly gentle, book. Parts of it really tickled me, and although parts annoyed me, it wasn’t enough to spoil it. It’s a love letter to fishing, and an insightful look at the way people can interact in unlikely ways and places.

I also really enjoyed the list of suggested further reading at the end. It was so unexpected. Maybe I’ll read some of them. And it reminds me, I need to rewatch the film, too.


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