I approached this novel with both anticipation and glee. After reading the frankly appalling Fifty Shades of Grey I was ready to settle down with a good book about fishing, so naturally Salmon Fishing in the Yemen filled my criteria.
This novel is comprised of a series of documents presented to the reader in chapters and referred to as evidence - which case these documents are evidence for the reader doesn’t know – building the intrigue from the very start and drawing you in incredibly quickly. I found myself reading through countless emails, interrogation transcripts and diary entries with the inquisitive nature of a meerkat. I felt like a detective, and as a reader I can say that is a great feeling.
Dr. Alfred Jones, a fisheries scientist is approached by a representative of the rich and spiritual Sheikh Muhammad whose sole ambition is to introduce salmon into the Yemen. Against his logical judgements, Fred joins the salmon project and quickly finds himself as the leading scientist on this brave new venture. Sheikh Muhammad’s representative is the professional, yet troubled young Harriet who quickly forms a friendship with the shy and doubtful scientist as they assist the Sheikh. Through the evidence presented the reader can make up his/her own judgements on how successful the project was and how much the characters really meant to each other during their time together. A keen salmon fisherman himself, author Paul Torday’s research is well founded and this gives the whole novel a believable element that is so crucial to the reader.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is quirky and original, the documents presented are witty and cleverly deposited throughout the story, holding just enough information back to keep the reader guessing until the very last moment. It has been described as a humorous novel and there were times were I did have a chuckle, but on the whole this novel had a sensitivity about it that hints at a bigger picture beyond the salmon project. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a new perspective on things and a chance to read a book with a refreshingly different format. And yes, I will be watching the film!