Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
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...
- Downloadable audio file
- 08 Feb 2007
- Orion Publishing Co
- Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
- London, United Kingdom
- Abridged edition
Sort of like a lesser Monty Python episode, this debut novel features British bureaucrats and biz types who collaborate with a starry-eyed sheikh to spur peace and profits by introducing salmon fishing in the Mideast desert.Middle-aged milquetoast Dr. Alfred Jones shudders at "the irrational, the unpredictable, and the unknown." He's a perfect patsy, then, for Torday to play with. The author embroils the star flunky of the National Centre for Fisheries Excellence in one seriously whacky scheme. E-mailing his dour, domineering spouse, Mary, about the project, Fred initially dismisses it as "scientifically nonsensical." Political pressure, however, prompts his meeting with Sheikh Muhammad, who argues that the Arab-Israeli and Yemeni internecine conflicts just might evaporate if all warring parties embraced gentlemanly fishing. The beguiling billionaire wheedles Fred into submission; even more effectively, so does Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, dishy publicist for Fitzharris & Price, the posh consultants the Sheikh hired to strong-arm Parliament into realizing his impossible dream. Frosty financier Mary belittles Fred by reminding him that her salary's twice his and constantly exacerbating his abandonment issues. Plus, her charms recall those of a Dickensian schoolmarm. Can't blame Fred, then, for falling for Harriet, who might as well be a Bond Girl, and, even while romancing a cute upper-crust captain on tour in Iraq, not above leading Fred on. In short order, things get dizzyingly farcical, as al-Qaeda involvement is suspected, as the notoriously contentious English press assails the Prime Minister and as Fred loses his bearings and his heart. By the end, a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee is threatening to bring down a government, and nasty fates have befallen Sheik and Captain.A giggle-inducing fish story. (Kirkus Reviews)
About Paul Torday
John Sessions is an actor and impressionist who has appeared in numerous television productions, including Titus Groan, Gormenghast, Boswell and Johnsons Western Isles, Porter House Blue and Whose Line is it Anyway? He has appeared extensively in the West End including such plays as Tartuffe, Common Pursuit and My Night with Reg, soon to be released as a feature. His film credits include Princess Cariboo, Henry V and In the Bleak Midwinter. Original TV work: Stella Street, Grumpy Old Men, Some Enchanted Evening, Tall Tales and Likely Stories. Original theatre work includes Life of Napoleon, Travelling Tails and most recently Paint Said Fred at the Royal Academy of Art. Paul Torday was born in 1946 and read English Literature at Pembroke College, Oxford. He is married with two sons by a previous marriage and has two stepsons. He has spent most of his life in industry, but in the last three years has found the time to write. For the last fifteen years he has also been a keen salmon fisherman, and as he lives close to the River North Tyne, he has been able to indulge in this enthusiasm. He lives in Northumberland and has often visited the Middle East. Samantha Bond is best known for her role as Miss Moneypenny in the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films. She trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and is a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2004 she starred opposite Peter Davison in the ITV drama-comedy Distant Shores and in 2006 she returned to the stage in a new production of Michael Frayn's Donkey's Years (for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award). She has read many audiobooks, including those by Agatha Christie and Philippa Gregory. Fenella Woolgar attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London. She has had roles in films by Stephen Fry, Richard Eyre, Mike Leigh, Richard E Grant and Woody Allen. She also performs regularly on stage, TV and radio. She was part of the multi-voice recording of Orion's book Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.