Torday, Paul 1946–

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Torday, Paul 1946–


Born 1946; married second wife; children: (first marriage) two sons; (second marriage) two stepsons. Education: Attended Pembroke College, Oxford University.


Home—Northumberland, England.


Worked in engineering and industry for thirty years.


Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Writing, 2007, for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.


Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (novel), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2007.


Paul Torday worked in industry and engineering for some three decades. After his retirement, he turned his attention to writing a book, one that takes in his love of fishing and his knowledge of the Middle East, gleaned from many business trips to that region over the years. The result was Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a satirical novel that follows the actions of Dr. Alfred Jones, a scientist who is assigned the task of bringing salmon fishing to the Middle Eastern desert, in part to deflect criticism of the war there.

In an interview with Danuta Kean, published on the Orion Publishing Group Web site, Torday discussed the changes he saw occurring in the Arab culture over a ten-year period, due to the pressures of Western influences, tourism, and financial concerns. He observed that Western cultures failed to appreciate the richness of Arab culture, wrongly regarding it as primitive and crude. "It is a very sophisticated and ancient world and it is really super-patronising to think that we can bring ideas to them that they haven't already thought of and tried and found wanting," he noted. One of the central themes in his book is that of faith versus reason, and as the author said to Kean: "The contrast between people who pray five times a day and people who shop five times a day is marked."

In the story, the character of Alfred clings to his scientific, rational worldview as he proceeds with his seemingly impossible project. Eventually, though, he must admit to himself that passion and hope are also vital to life. Alfred's story is told though the use of conventional narrative, diary entries, newspaper clippings and the like. Reviewing the novel for the Scotland on Sunday Web site, Daneet Steffens remarked: "It is light, but succeeds in an ambitious project: making a book about fishing readable, even touching. Fish may not be your bag, but it is the capacity for commitment and belief that makes for good reading." Matt Thorne, reviewing for the London Telegraph Online, described it as "feel good comedy with surprising bite." Some reviewers were particularly impressed with the author's skill in creating his characters. For example, Janelle Martin commented on the Gather Web site: "Through deft handling and shifting viewpoints, Torday's characters are well-rounded and almost leap off the page…. His attention to detail ensures that, with time, even characters who initially appear wooden exhibit unexpected depths and demand the reader's empathy."



Booklist, March 1, 2007, Thomas Gaughan, review of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, p. 64.

Bookseller, January 26, 2007, review of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, p. 13.

Economist, March 3, 2007, review of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, p. 89.

Library Journal, March 1, 2007, David A. Berona, review of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, p. 78.

M2 Best Books, May 8, 2007, "Paul Torday Wins Bollinger Prize for Comic Fiction."

New Statesman, January 22, 2007, Nadia Saint, review of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, p. 60.

Publishers Weekly, February 19, 2007, review of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, p. 149.


Curled Up with a Good Book, (October 10, 2007), Janelle Martin, review of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

Gather, (October 2, 2007), review of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

Guardian Online, (February 24, 2007), Tim Mackintosh-Smith, review of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

Orion Publishing Group Web site, (October 1, 2007), Danuta Kean, interview with Paul Torday.

Scotland on Sunday, (October 2, 2007), Daneet Steffens, review of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

Telegraph Online, (October 2, 2007), Amanda Craig, review of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.