Then the Fish Swallowed Him

A Novel

by Amir Ahmadi Arian

On Sale: 03/24/2020

Then the Fish Swallowed Him

Enlarge Book Cover

Then the Fish Swallowed Him

A Novel

by Amir Ahmadi Arian

On Sale: 03/24/2020


About the Book

An critically-acclaimed Iranian author makes his American literary debut with this powerful and harrowing psychological portrait of modern Iran—an unprecedented and urgent work of fiction with echoes of The Stranger, 1984, and The Orphan Master's Son—that exposes the oppressive and corrosive power of the state to bend individual lives.

Yunus Turabi, a bus driver in Tehran, leads an unremarkable life. A solitary man since the unexpected deaths of his father and mother years ago, he is decidedly apolitical—even during the driver's strike and its bloody end. But everyone has their breaking point, and Yunus has reached his.

Handcuffed and blindfolded, he is taken to the infamous Evin prison for political dissidents. Inside this stark, strangely ordered world, his fate becomes entwined with Hajj Saeed, his personal interrogator. The two develop a disturbing yet interdependent relationship, with each playing his assigned role in a high stakes psychological game of cat and mouse, where Yunus endures a mind-bending cycle of solitary confinement and interrogation. In their startlingly intimate exchanges, Yunus's life begins to unfold—from his childhood memories growing up in a freer Iran to his heartbreaking betrayal of his only friend. As Yunus struggles to hold on to his sanity and evade Saeed's increasingly undeniable accusations, he must eventually make an impossible choice: continue fighting or submit to the system of lies upholding Iran's power.

Gripping, startling, and masterfully told, Then the Fish Swallowed Him is a haunting story of life under despotism.

Critical Praise

“An important new novel, not-to-be-missed... A sharply observed, painfully intimate and illuminating vision of Iran that will be invaluable to readers.” — Joyce Carol Oates

“I found Amir Arian’s Then the Fish Swallowed Him a strange and startling vision written with the ferocity of an endangered artist and the lyric eloquence of a master. The world conjured up in these pages will haunt the reader with a real, palpable but entertaining dread much like the Iranian classic, The Blind Owl. It is a debut of genuine brilliance and wit.” — Chigozie Obioma, Man Booker Shortlisted author of The Fisherman and An Orchestra of Minorities

Then the Fish Swallowed Him had me gripped from the start, I couldn’t turn away. A story about power and the way it can hold us in its cruel grasp. This is a novel of our times. Revealing, dark and illuminating, beautiful and tense.”  — Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo 

Then the Fish Swallowed Him is a gripping, intelligent novel, opening vistas of the imagination with economy and insight. Harrowing and clear as a bell.” — Isabella Hammad, author of The Parisian 

“In this stunning work, Arian accomplishes a rare feat by telling a captivating story of an unforgettable character and by bearing witness to the hard truths endured by political prisoners everywhere.” 
Booklist (starred review)

“A distressing, smartly interior tale of the horrors sown by oppressive politics.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062946294
  • ISBN 10: 0062946293
  • Imprint: HarperVia
  • On Sale: 03/24/2020
  • Pages: 288
  • List Price:31.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : FICTION / Psychological
  • BISAC2 : FICTION / Political
  • BISAC3 : FICTION / Literary

Then the Fish Swallowed Him by Amir Ahmadi Arian

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the web site's home page.

Other Booksellers

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the Web site's home page.


Specialty Booksellers

Interest-specific online venues and gift accounts that offer books for purchase. The links will take you to the store’s home page.

International Customers

If you are located outside Canada, the best way to order online is to choose from the following bookstores listed by region and country.