Lecture / Reading

In Solitary: Then the Fish Swallowed Him

Sponsored by Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies and the Stanford Festival of Iranian Arts


Thursday, January 14, 2021
10:00 am – 11:00 am
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Amir Ahmadi Arian discusses his first novel in English, Then the Fish Swallowed Him published by HarperCollins in 2020. 

“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.”

Amir Arian is a critically acclaimed Iranian writer currently living in New York City. He has published two novels and a book of nonfiction in Iran, and translated novels by Paul Auster, Cormac McCarthy, P.D. James, and E.L. Doctorow from English to Persian. In English his short stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Paris Review, London Review of Books, Guernica, and Lithub, among others.