Art And Culture

‘Little Black Fish’ Back in a New Story

‘Little Black Fish’  Back in a New Story
‘Little Black Fish’  Back in a New Story

The first book authored by the famous Iranian translator Lili Golestan titled ‘Mr. Samad and the Little Black Fish’ with illustrations by Naeimeh Naeimaee was unveiled on Thursday (March 5) at Golestan gallery in Tehran in the presence of art and culture fans and figures.

Published by Nazar Publications, the book is somehow a continuation of the famous Iranian children’s book ‘The little Black Fish’ written by the late Samad Behrangi, reports Honaronline.

In the original book, published in 1967, the story is told through the voice of an old fish speaking to her 12,000 children and grandchildren. She describes the journey of a small black fish that leaves the safety of the local stream to venture into the world.

The path of the little fish leads down a waterfall and along the length of the river to the sea. Along the way the fish meets several interesting characters, including a helpful lizard and the dreaded pelican. With both wisdom and courage, the fish travels far indeed, and the tale ends with the little black fish as an example for others.

The book was widely considered to be a political allegory, and was banned in pre-revolutionary Iran (prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution) by the Pahlavi regime.

Behrangi (1939–1967) was an Iranian teacher, social critic, folklorist, translator, and short story writer. His books typically portrayed the lives of children of the urban poor and encouraged the individual to change their circumstances by their own initiatives.

On selecting this story to write her first book as an author, Golestan said, “when I was asked to write a book for children, the first story which came to my mind was Samad’s as it was one of the stories I had read for my three kids in the past.”

  What Happens Next?

“I always wondered what happens next after the story finishes. What does Samad do when he misses the little fish?! He might go after it into the river to find it. So I developed this simple idea and wrote a short story out of it,” Golestan added.

Golestan (born in 1944) is an Iranian translator, and owner of the Golestan Gallery in Tehran. She is the daughter of the filmmaker and writer Ebrahim Golestan, the sister of the late photojournalist Kaveh Golestan and the mother of filmmaker Mani Haghighi. She has translated fiction and non-fiction works from famous writers including Eugene Ionesco, Romain Gary, Albert Camus, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Among the guests at the function, Farshid Mesghali was probably the most notable, as he created the memorable illustrations for the original book ‘The Little Black Fish’.

In Mesghali’s opinion, the new narration by Golestan is “a new experience which keeps the unforgettable memory of the original book alive for the reader familiar with it.” Speaking on the differences between Naeimaee’s illustrations and his, he said: “Since the new book tells a new story, there is no need for the two fishes to be alike.”

“This book is written for an older audience compared to the previous one, so my illustrations were more childish and that is what makes this version independent of its predecessor,” he noted.

Mesghali is an animator, graphic designer, illustrator, and writer, who received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1974 for his “lasting contribution” as a children’s illustrator. He also won the First Graphic Prize at the 6th International Children Books’ Fair in Bologna in 1968 and was given an honorary diploma at the Bratislava Biannual, Czechoslovakia in 1968.

An important factor which has greatly helped the book to be attractive is its illustrations. Use of photos in the work and an attempt to create ‘credible’ underwater space has largely contributed to the book’s mass success.


The young artist Naeimaee, whose original book illustrations are exhibited in the gallery, expressed joy over her work being approved by masters of the art saying: “Although surely my work is not flawless, everyone is pleased with the digital technique I have used in illustrating the book, so I am extremely happy with the result (of acceptance).”

She further noted that besides the opinion of masters, she likes to know the opinion of the public, especially children.

Another outstanding guest at the event was the well-known cartoonist and graphic artist Kambiz Derambakhsh who believes writing such a book on this theme needs courage. “Behrangi’s ‘The Little Black Fish’ is among the best children’s book in Iran, therefore working on a new story on its basis is daring and Golestan has successfully carried it out.”

Derambakhsh explained the illustration techniques used in the book saying that the digital technique is common in book illustrations outside the country, but “as it is the first time in Iran, the outcome is harmonious and well composed.”