Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was another cheap deal from the remaindered bookshop in Totnes, a crazy, interesting place we visit from time to time. The sign you see on entering the town says Twinned with Narnia. Anyone reading this blog of books would know what that is meant to suggest about the place, and its lack of connection with the real world. Totnes is an eco town, aiming to become independent of oil. I’m not sure how well it’s getting on, but last time we went through, the traffic queues were quite bad!
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was an easy read and a fun book. It’s told as a series of documents – emails, diary entries, parliamentary reports, and newspaper articles – telling the story of a middle aged fisheries scientist tasked with turning a Yemeni wadi into a salmon run. Torday uses this vehicle to explore a loveless marriage, western relationships with the world of Islam, and the less moral aspects of the British political system. It’s a satire, and it did make me laugh. The plot is interesting enough, some aspects more so than others. I found the supposed autobiographical extracts written by the Prime Minister’s public relations officer, Peter Maxwell, some of the least interesting sections.
I would certainly recommend this as a beach book. It’s easy to read and amusing. It has some serious points, but these are not strikingly original – just expressed in an amusing and light hearted way.