Written as a 'report into the circumstances surrounding the decision to introduce salmon into the Yemen', this is a novel that is made up of emails, letters, diary extracts, records of Prime Minister's Question Time, interviews, and chapters from the memoirs of a fantastically weasely Peter Mandelson-type figure. The 'Yes Minister' comparisons are ...
Written as a 'report into the circumstances surrounding the decision to introduce salmon into the Yemen', this is a novel that is made up of emails, letters, diary extracts, records of Prime Minister's Question Time, interviews, and chapters from the memoirs of a fantastically weasely Peter Mandelson-type figure. The 'Yes Minister' comparisons are justified (and there is some brilliant, hilarious political and bureaucratic satire here), but at its heart it's the story of a hen-pecked, slightly pompous, middle-aged scientist who finds himself caught up in what seems like an impossible project, and of how this project changes his life. In the process he becomes an unlikely, and rather loveable hero, discovers true love for himself, finds himself both a pawn and then a victim of political spin, leaves his brilliantly horrible wife, and learns to believe in the impossible. And he takes the reader with him in the process' The author (a keen salmon fisherman himself) writes about salmon fishing with atmospheric reverence, deftly captures the hypocrisy of Western governments - who spot the PR angles of sending fish to the Middle East rather than soldiers - conveys the mindless bureaucracy of the civil service, and the government's skillful nurturing of deniability, and portrays a man who rather belatedly comes of age in extraordinary circumstances.
An excellent easy read - told through e mail, articles, interviews and diaries. You learn a lot about salmon and their habits - which is linked, in this case to Sheikh Mohammad's feelings about god and destiny. A wide ranging book, it also covers British involvement in the Middle East, and thier own cover up operations.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-02-19 In Torday's winningly absurdist debut, Dr. Alfred Jones feels at odds with his orderly life as a London fisheries scientist and husband to the career-driven Mary, with whom he shares a coldly dispassionate relationship. Just as Mary departs for a protracted assignment in Geneva, Alfred gets consulted on a visionary sheik's scheme to introduce salmon, and salmon-angling, to the country of Yemen. Alfred is deeply skeptical (salmon are cold-water fish that spawn in fresh water; Yemen is hot and largely desert), but the project gains traction when Peter Maxwell, the prime minister's director of communications, seizes on it as a PR antidote to negative press related to the Iraq war. Alfred is pressed by his superiors to meet with the sheik's real estate rep, the glamorous young Harriet, and embarks on a yearlong journey to realize the sheik's vision of spiritual peace through fly-fishing for the people of Yemen. British businessman and angler Torday captures Alfred's emerging humanity, Maxwell's antic solipsism, Mary's calculating neediness and Harriet's vulnerability, presenting their voices through diaries, e-mails, letters and official interviews conducted after the doomed venture's surprisingly tragic outcome. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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