Amir Ahmadi Arian: Then the Fish Swallowed Him


Out of all the post-Iranian Revolution books I have encountered, this one is rather unusual. Here, the revolution takes a backseat. Or does it?

Published in 2020, perhaps it is heralding the era of significant literature on the revolution’s longterm effects.

Named after the prophet Jonah, Yunus is a bus driver arrested during a strike, and sent to Tehran’s most notorious prison where his descent into absurdity deepens.

At first glance, the physical belly of the whale is Evin prison. But given a closer look, the psychological belly of the whale is madness and totalitarian politics from which there is no reprieve for this Yunus; and its haunting effects on the psyche, lasting.

The novel is unnerving, but even more so when the reader remembers scripture and realizes… Wasn’t the prophet Jonah sent to warn the people?

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