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Literature / Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a 2007 comedic novel by Paul Torday. It's a political satire on New Labour spin in Britain. And about an attempt to bring salmon to the Yemen so the people could enjoy the wonderful effects of fishing.

It was adapted into a movie in 2011, directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor and Kristin Scott Thomas.

The novel contains examples of:

  • All Love Is Unrequited: And how. We've got Fred for Harriet and Peter for Jay, although the latter is more implicit. None of the requited relationships work out too well either.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Bordering on Downer Ending. The project succeeds but just about everything else goes down in flames - Jay and the Sheikh die in a flood, along with the funding for the project, Harriet and Fred part while he stays married to Mary and Peter turns into a train wreck. The only real bright spot is that Fred finds a decent job and the Yemeni government are considering rebooting the project in the distant future.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Fred.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The prime minister and his spin-doctor are obvious stand-ins for Tony Blair and Alistair Darling. Inevitably this aspect seemed dated as satire shortly afterwards.
  • Scrapbook Story: The entire novel is told through letters, newspaper articles and transcripts from an investigation into the plot;s events. The characters can get oddly personal and lyrical considering the nature of the documents.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Somewhat implied by British troops having been called in to protect Saudi oil fields.

The movie contains examples of:

  • Adapted Out: The only real characters in the movie are Fred, Harriet, the Sheikh, Fred's wife, Fred's boss, and the British Prime ministers press secretary.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A lot Sweeter than the book's. Fred gets the girl, the dam is still whole and some salmon are still alive.
  • The Film of the Book
  • Spared by the Adaptation: While the project still gets wrecked, the Sheikh survives, and the only one who dies is a nameless guard.

Alternative Title(s): Salmon Fishing In The Yemen