You know this, right? Yemen, previously called “The Yemen,” lies on the fringe of the Arabian Peninsula as is best known today as a world-class producer of sand, desert heat, and political violence. Salmon are, of course, cold-water fish that are challenging to catch with a rod and reel but taste all the better once caught. So, we’re on the same page, yes?

Now consider the chances of finding a novel that adroitly mixes not just Yemen and salmon fishing but also the British Parliament, Al Qaeda, a mystical sheikh, the art of public relations, a sad love story, and a journey of self-discovery. Before I read this book, I would have defied anyone to accomplish that seemingly impossible task. But Paul Torday has managed to do so, brilliantly, producing a satirical treatment of British politics that is alternately affecting and screamingly funny.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday @@@@ (4 out of 5)

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is the first of British author Paul Torday’s six novels to date. Written when he was 59 years old at the end of a successful business career, the book reportedly allowed him to write about what he knows best (as every teacher urges in Creative Writing 101). As you might guess, what Paul Torday appears to know best are salmon fishing and the Middle East, and the resulting novel is the unique expression of a genuine talent.

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Thanks to reader Betty Taller for suggesting this book.

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