Saturday, December 7, 2013

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Where was I when this came out in 2007? When I discovered this title recently in someone else’s TBR list, I immediately added to my own. The novel is an absurdist romp with a heart of gold (and romance). I belly-laughed through the first bits, looked askance at the portion where the Prime Minister’s aide imagines a quiz show in Pakistan, and couldn’t wait to find out the result of the ridiculous, bound-to-fail salmon fishery in Yemen. I wanted to believe, as the sheik says.

This worthy novel has already been made into a Golden Globe-nominated film starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt which was released in 2011. I look forward to seeing what Director Lasse Hallström has done with the absurdist concepts, poking fun at government spending on dubious projects which serve only to keep current officials election-worthy. Torday captures the dueling-memo mentality of government bureaucracies competing for limited funds, and the stilted, unsexy email correspondences of working spouses.

And yet, there is more than mere farce in the developing faith our fisheries expert has in the doomed project, and in his blossoming love for his “estate agent” colleague. I listened to the 2007 Orion production of the audiobook supported by a full cast including Downton Abbey star Samantha Bond (you’ll recognize her voice immediately) along with John Sessions, Andrew Sachs, Andrew Marr and many more. The audiobook is a brilliant success as each character is enunciated by actors with great skills. This audiobook production ranks among the best I have heard in recent years and is well worth seeking out.

I look forward also to seeking out more of Torday’s titles. And I adore the covers for his books. I note the publisher remains an imprint of George Weidenfeld & Nicholson throughout his list. These exceptionally fine covers could be done in-house at the publishers, but more likely they are created by a friend. What a great gift to the author, and to us, to see two artistic talents melded. Kudos Torday, et al!

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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