A Short History of Tractor Fishing in the Yemen

2007-09-12, Comments

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian was one of my favourite books from last year, a fact which, funnily enough, put me off the similarly titled Salmon Fishing in the Yemen — I assumed the yemen-salmon book would be a flimsy me-too book, pushed out by publishers on the back of the ukrainian-tractor’s success.

salmon book cover tractor book cover

Not so. I greatly enjoyed the salmon book. Unlike the tractor book, salmon and salmon fishing are central to the the plot: Dr Alfred Jones, a government scientist, is roped into a crazy scheme to introduce salmon to the Yemen. It turns he’s actually being manipulated by the Prime Minister and his director of communications, Alistair Campbell, oops Peter Maxwell I mean, who are desperate for a feel-good story in the Middle-East, though as the story continues, Jones falls increasingly under the influence of an inspirational sheik and his attractive assistant.

It’s a deftly-written satire. My only complaint is that, as a satire, it loses its bite as it continues: the best satires (The History Man, for example) should start with you laughing and end with you crying. This one left me laughing.

The History Man