In Sensorium

Notes for My People

by Tanaïs

On Sale: 02/22/2022

In Sensorium

Enlarge Book Cover

In Sensorium

Notes for My People

by Tanaïs

On Sale: 02/22/2022


About the Book

Fragrance has long been used to mark who is civilized and who is barbaric, who is pure and who is polluted, who is free and who is damned—

Focusing their gaze on our most primordial sense, writer and perfumer Tanaïs weaves a brilliant and expansive memoir, a reckoning that offers a critical, alternate history of South Asia from an American Bangladeshi Muslim femme perspective. From stories of their childhood in the South, Midwest, and New York; to transcendent experiences with lovers, psychedelics, and fragrances; to trips home to their motherland, Tanaïs builds a universe of memories and scent: a sensorium. Alongside their personal history, and at the very heart of this work, is an interrogation of the ancient violence of caste, rape culture, patriarchy, war, and the inherited ancestral trauma of being from a lush land constantly denuded, a land still threatened and disappearing because of colonization, capitalism, and climate change. 

Structured like a perfume—moving from base to heart to head notes—IN SENSORIUM interlaces eons of South Asian perfume history, erotic and religious texts, survivor testimonies, and material culture with memoir. In Sensorium is archive and art, illuminating the great crises of our time with the language of Liberation.

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Critical Praise

In Sensorium is a potently beautiful testimonial of feeling, touching, and breathing beyond the boundaries of empire, patriarchy, and the rule of law. It is a love story for all of us who not only live on the margins, but make magic there. With remarkable sensitivity and frankness, Tanaïs has given us an unforgettable, wise, and sumptuous story. This book will be with me for a very long time. - Imani Perry, author of Breathe and South to America

In Sensorium does to the senses, particularly smell, what Toni Cade Bambara did to sound. I have never come close to experiencing a book that reminds us to accept the calcified histories and fluid futures deeply packed in our senses. What an absolutely unique and momentous book! Tanaïs has made a book only they could write, and my body is so, so thankful. Stunning work. - Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division and Heavy 

Novelist and perfumer Tanaïs blends in this beautiful work memoir, history, and notes on perfuming to interrogate love, violence, and generational healing. Throughout, rich imagery and language are married as Tanaïs moves through their ancestral trauma to discover a place of healing...Readers will find more than just their olfactory senses heightened by this beautiful meditation. - Publishers Weekly

A lyrical memoir, sensuous and sensual, that crosses decades and continents...Tanaïs, author of the acclaimed novel Bright Lines, brings a millennial sensibility—and a rejection of outmoded mores—to their work as a sharp observer of the world. Refusing old binaries, they move freely among peoples who are bitterly divided...A heady pleasure of language in love with the author’s many subjects, and perfectly suited to them. - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780358381709
  • ISBN 10: 0358381703
  • Imprint: Harper
  • On Sale: 02/22/2022
  • Pages: 352
  • List Price:33.50 CAD
  • BISAC2 : BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / Asian & Asian American
  • BISAC4 : HISTORY / Asia / India & South Asia

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