The Sunday Times/Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer Of The Year Award in association with The University Of Warwick – Kings Of The Yukon: An Alaskan River Journey – By Adam Weymouth

I have to be very honest from the outset.  I’m not a huge non-fiction reader as a rule.  Neither am I a reader of travel books or books surrounding nature or the natural world.  Therefore when I saw The Kings Of The Yukon on the shortlist I was very apprehensive.

This is an account of Adam Weymouth’s journey along the Yukon river in Alaska, largely alone in a canoe.  This is also an account of how the King Salmon (or Chinook as they are known) numbers are quickly dwindling and the socio-economic impact of this.

When I read the reviews of this book on Goodreads prior to starting it, I was hopeful that despite my trepidation this could be a book that I could actually enjoy.  One of the reviews had said that the book reads like a fictional novel and at times I can definitely agree with this. In fact I think that Adam’s writing style would lend itself very well to fiction.

We follow Adam along the Yukon river, experiencing the trials and tribulations of his often isolated journey.  He stops to speak to the people who live in the surrounding areas. Gleaning facts and stories of their own experiences of the salmon fishing trade and how the changes have affected them and their families and lives.

This book is a very clever mix of human interest, personal experience and facts. I never thought I’d find myself so fascinated by the lives of salmon!

They swim through silt, eyes wide, unblinking. Thirty, forty, fifty pounds of flesh, many thousands of them. Their backs freckled like frogspawn, the blush of their bellies, where the silver of their flanks fades into a deep and meaty rose. Jaws gawping, lips beginning to curve in upon themselves like pliers, propping their mouths ajar so that the river flows right through them, and yet for the rest of their lives these salmon will not eat, they will not drink…

Adams writing style is very engaging, he doesn’t bombard you with facts and figures, he gives you just enough for you to understand the situation and get a feel for his experiences and the experiences of others.

I think the length and readability of this book is perfect. I was honestly so surprised to enjoy it as much as I did.

I do have to say that my favourite parts were the human interest elements. Adams accounts of his meeting of the locals along the way, staying with them, eating with them, fishing with them. Their stories were very interesting and Adam’s interaction with them too.

I wasn’t so keen on the geography element and the history of the rivers and tributaries. It’s just not something I have an interest in, so found it more difficult to engage with these sections.

All in all I found this a surprising read and I’m grateful once again that the award has widened my reading and allowed me to sample Adam’s writing.

My next post will be announcing our winner! Exciting!

See you soon.

Bookish Chat xxx

4 thoughts on “The Sunday Times/Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer Of The Year Award in association with The University Of Warwick – Kings Of The Yukon: An Alaskan River Journey – By Adam Weymouth

    1. Oh definitely keep an open mind. On seeing this book on the shortlist my stomach dropped a little bit I was very pleasantly surprised!


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