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 pressure him to work on it. His diaries of the Yemen Salmon Project, from beginning to glorious, tragic end, form the narrative backbone of this novel; interspersed throughout are government memos, e-mails, letters, and interview transcripts that deftly capture the absurdity of bureaucratic dysfunction.With a wickedly wonderful cast of characters—including a weasel-like spin doctor, a missing soldier and his intrepid fiancée, and Dr. Jones’s own devilish wife—Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is the whimsical story of an unlikely hero who discovers true love, finds himself first a pawn and then a victim of political spin, and learns to believe in the impossible.
Publication Date: April 2nd 2007
This was a book club selection and therefore a new author to me and I wasn’t disappointed! The first thing that I was drawn to with this book was the name of the book. The idea of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was interesting and intriguing at the same time. I wasn’t really sure what to expect so I was excited to find out.
The book started off by introducing us to a Dr Alfred Jones who worked for the National Centre for Fisheries Excellence (NCFE) through the correspondence he had with the director of NCFE David Sugden and others. We also meet Alfred’s (Fred’s) wife Mary who is hard to read at the best of times and at others seems to really lack any ounce of humour. We see that her relationship with Fred deteriorates over the course of the story. Personally I was never enamoured with Mary but thought that Fred was an interesting character – an honest man yet sensible.
The story showcased how politics is very good at covering up things so as to save face when things look as though they’re about to go horribly wrong and therefore needs to be standing an appropriate distance from goings on. Conversely, this story showed how politically powers are very happy to be associated with a project when there’s a prospect that such an association would work in its favour. I really thought that it was a great comment on today’s political system even though it was the British government the story was focussed on. There were times when all one could do was laugh about what was going on.
This story was more than just a nice little story about Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. It was about faith, belief, and pushing the envelope within yourself. It was a very rich story which allowed the reader into a world that we would perhaps not understand in a normal situation. Highly recommend this author’s work.
Recommend for: Adults