If ever there were an example of a storyline so simple and brilliant that whatever was written about it would be good, it is this. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is an absolute genius of an idea, and the book itself captivates you from start to finish – largely out of genuine curiosity.
What starts out as a seemingly outlandish project that lands on the desk of a rather introverted old fishing scientist turns into a ground-breaking scientific and cultural experiment to successfully imbed European salmon into the Yemen ecosystem.
The author’s skill throughout this book is his ability to grow each of the characters and change them over time so the reader can get more familiar with them. Their hopes, dreams and emotions all develop, and the reader is allowed to journey alongside, growing attached to each of the characters in different ways.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen does starts off quite difficult to read, as it is told through the combination of emails, interviews, and diary entries, but you soon find yourself used to the writing style and immersed in the novel. That being said, the actual writing of the novel could be better. Paul Torday, the author, is brilliant at presenting his characters and all the tricks of the literary trade are there; unfortunately, so are a few of the avoid-at-all-cost clichés, such as writing the line ‘this only happens in movies’ into the book. A move like that can have the adverse effect of reminding the reader that they are in fact reading a novel and not a true story.
Aside from certain moments such as this – which are nit-picky at best – the book was brilliant, and a delight to read. You find yourself finishing it unsure of whether it all actually happened or not. I must warn the reader though, if you watched the movie and want to read the book afterwards, they are very different- very good, but very different.