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Then the Fish Swallowed Him: A Novel
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HarperCollins 2020
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Description

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.

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Street Date:
03/24/2020
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062946317
ASIN:
B07TGCXRPX
Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Amir Ahmadi Arian. (2020). Then the Fish Swallowed Him: A Novel. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Amir Ahmadi Arian. 2020. Then the Fish Swallowed Him: A Novel. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Amir Ahmadi Arian, Then the Fish Swallowed Him: A Novel. HarperCollins, 2020.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Amir Ahmadi Arian. Then the Fish Swallowed Him: A Novel. HarperCollins, 2020. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Apr 25, 2020 14:00:47
Date Updated:
Sep 20, 2020 04:23:25
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        Amir Ahmadi Arian started out as a journalist in Iran in 2000 and has since published a collection of stories, a nonfiction book, and two novels in Persian. He also translated from English to Persian novels by E.L Doctorow, Paul Auster, P.D. James, and Cormac McCarthy. Since leaving Iran in 2011 to complete a PhD in comparative literature at the University of Queensland, Australia, he has published short stories and essays in Michigan Quarterly Review, Guernica, The New York Times, and The Guardian. He currently lives in New York where he earned an MFA in the NYU Creative Writing Program as The Axinn Foundation/E.L. Doctorow Fellowship recipient, and teaches literature and creative writing at CUNY City College.

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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...

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Then the Fish Swallowed Him
fullDescription

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.

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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Joyce Carol Oates
      • content: "An important new novel, not-to-be-missed... A sharply observed, painfully intimate and illuminating vision of Iran that will be invaluable to readers."
      • premium: False
      • source: Chigozie Obioma, Man Booker Shortlisted author of The Fisherman and An Orchestra of Minorities
      • content: "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."
      • premium: False
      • source: Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo 
      • content: "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."
      • premium: False
      • source: Isabella Hammad, author of The Parisian 
      • content: "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."
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist (starred review)
      • content: "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."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
      • content: "A distressing, smartly interior tale of the horrors sown by oppressive politics."
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        January 15, 2020
        A Tehran bus driver is arrested during a strike, making him a pawn of Iranian politics and a victim of cruel imprisonment. Yunus, the narrator of this brisk and piercing protest novel, is a demure middle-aged man who's striven to keep the turmoil of Iranian politics at arm's length: The 1979 revolution was overshadowed by his father's death and his mother's ensuing depression and maybe suicide. So he's blithely confident his participation in a 2005 drivers' strike can only be perceived as a reasonable plea for better treatment, not part of a global insurrection against the Ahmadinejad regime. What's the harm of reading Foucault and Marx with fellow union members? Plenty, the regime believes, and after Yunus beats a young counterprotester in a fit of anger, he's arrested, sent to Tehran's fearsome Evin prison, and told his victim was the son of the transportation minister. Whether the allegation is true or not, Yunus' prison stint becomes an unjust torment of beatings, forced confessions, and the slow-creeping madness of solitary confinement. (In one well-turned, poignant scene, he pleads with a fly not to abandon him.) This novel, the first in English by the Iranian-born Arian, is scaffolded with familiar tropes of kangaroo courts, false statements, and good-cop, bad-cop routines. But the author writes about Yunus' plight with a plainspoken, lacerating intensity. Moreover, Yunus is a richly imagined character who reckons with the consequences of his political ignorance and an ill-advised affair that's used as further ammunition against him. A few books and some bad judgment do not an enemy of the state make, but Arian expertly tracks Yunus' gears' turning from anger to depression to self-judging. Yunus' mental disorientation is as punishing as his beatings and, as the closing pages show, leaves lasting harm. A distressing, smartly interior tale of the horrors sown by oppressive politics.

        COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from March 1, 2020
        Reminiscent of Camus' The Stranger, Iranian writer Arian's first novel published in the U.S. excels in its own right for its sheer literary and moral brilliance. Yunus Turabi, a nondescript bus driver in Tehran, ambivalently participates in a strike only to be reminded that, oftentimes, civil disobedience yields little and circumstances remain the same. When mild-mannered Yunus is provoked and entangled in an altercation, his fit of rage lands him in prison. Handcuffed and blindfolded, Yunus is condemned to solitary confinement where he is tortured. Yunus' physical and emotional journey is brought to life through the riveting and extraordinary details in Arian's intense portrayal. Despite his detention and psychological fragility, Yunus is able to find beauty and peace in the mundane. However, when his will to withstand mental and corporeal battering wavers, Yunus is forced to choose between succumbing to the interrogator's commands or maintaining his innocence. As Yunus confronts his past as a son, human being, and Iranian citizen, he must also come to terms with his uncertain future. 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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from May 4, 2020
        Arian’s hard-hitting English-language debut follows bus driver Yunus Turabi and his breakdown subsequent to a union strike—resulting in a devastating stint in prison. Yunus, 44, lives alone in Tehran. When he bumps into coworker Behrouz at a grocery store, Behrouz invites him to his house for dinner—and to join the union. Yunus then participates in a strike that turns violent, with the police and protestors clashing. The next day, in a state of despair over the fighting and a longing for human connection, he decides to drive his route anyway. When the passengers crowd and harass each other and a boy calls Yunus and the other bus drivers “sleazy assholes” who refuse to do their jobs, Yunus beats him nearly to death. The boy turns out to be the son of a minister, and Yunus is sentenced to four years in prison. During this time, he recalls his affair with Behrouz’s wife, who cut things off abruptly. When he’s finally released, he’s broken and adrift, having falsely confessed to masterminding the protest. Arian blends sharp, journalistic observations of Tehran’s politics and street scenes with a deeply empathetic portrait of Yunus’s troubled interior life. This is an essential work of contemporary Iran.

subtitle
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popularity
0
publisher
HarperCollins
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