Reviews

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Author: Paul Torday
ISBN: 9780297851721
Imprint: Weidenfeld & Nicholson
Binding: Pbk
Featured in the June, 2009 magazine
(Worth a read)

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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Reading Notes

  1. What did you think when you first picked up the novel? Did you enjoy the construction (as a collection of documents), or did it put you off? Did you change your opinion as you read? How would you have told the story?
  2. Sheikh Muhammad believes that bringing salmon fishing to his country will create the 'patience and tolerance' in his people he sees in fisherman in England. Is there any merit in his vision? Or do people who are patient and tolerant by nature simply choose to fish?
  3. Does Dr Jones's unsatisfactory marriage discourage him from embracing the Yemen project, or has his reluctance to take on anything outside his experience given him a distant wife?
  4. Do you think Harriet falls in love with Dr Jones?
  5. The book has at its heart the contrast between the secular world of the west, and faith-based societies of the Middle East. Which world comes out with most credit, do you think?
  6. Did you notice the change in Dr Jones's diary entries as he becomes more involved in the world of Sheikh Muhammad? How does his style of writing evolve?
  7. Dr Jones has 'moved on from religion'. Instead of going to church on a Sunday, he goes to Tesco (English supermarket). Has he lost or gained?
  8. 'In this Old Testament land it is difficult not to believe in myths and magic and miracles.' Do our surroundings in the west make it harder to believe?
  9. In the west, we live in 'a world which only recognised what it could count, measure, sell or buy.' Dr Jones finds a land that still has the 'innocent power of belief', and he learns to believe in belief. Is the power of belief 'innocent', or is there a reason why the west has 'moved on'?
  10. How well do you believe the novel worked as a satire of our bureaucratic and spin-doctored political system?
  11. How happy were you with the end of the novel? Its structure meant we couldn't know too much of the future of the protagonists. Would you have liked to know more?

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