Salmon Fishing in Yemen by Paul Torday
Belief in the impossible and the impossible accomplished.
An interesting concept introducing Salmon Fishing from the misty cold wet highland rivers of Scotland to the hot dry treeless desert wadi that sees water sometimes. This is the vision of the Yemeni Sheikh His Excellency Muhammad ibn Zaidi bani Tihama and the task presented to the British Dr. Alfred Jones, working for the civil service at the National Centre for Fisheries Excellence.
The unbelieving scientist Alfred Jones who thinks this an impossible task is reluctantly converted over a time and after meeting the spiritual Sheikh who believes and is focused. In the end Sheikh’s dream becomes the scientist’s dream and together they make it a reality.
Humorously related the story takes on an unusual structure, presented as part emails, part letters and part diary entries, giving voices to the many characters. These take the form of conversations – between the Alfred Jones and his ambitions career-wife who thinks the salmon project is a harebrained idea and her husband a ‘no hoper’; insights in the dealing between the scientist and Anita Brookner who is a high powered agent for the Sheikh; and what goes on between various other characters in the civil service. The many voices and points of view can be confusing at times and sometimes there is more telling, and less showing.
Most interesting and hilarious part for me was the true hipocrisy of the civil service, how governments work. Officials with an eye on foreign policy take credit for ‘all’ when all goes well and wash their hands off the project when things do not.
There are breath-taking descriptions of salmon and water, interesting fishing scenes and without being boring much information on salmon and salmon vocabulary.
I found the end of the story a little disappointing and also found the Sheikh’agen a little weak in the end. But in spite of my view of the end Salmon Fishing in Yemen novel is a great read. Humorous, insightful, and full of interesting facts woven in seamlessly.
Salmon Fishing in Yemen confirms the idea if one believes in something wholeheartedly, however difficult the project, however impossible the project seems, it can succeed. And that is my belief too.
PS: The movie is about to the Hong Kong circuit.