In Sensorium: Notes for My People (Hardcover)

In Sensorium: Notes for My People Cover Image
By Tanaïs
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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.

About the Author

TANAÏS is the author of In Sensorium, and the critically acclaimed novel Bright Lines, which was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize. They are the recipient of residencies at MacDowell, Tin House, and Djerassi. An independent perfumer, their fragrance, beauty and design studio TANAÏS is based in New York City. Follow them on Instagram at @studiotanais.

Praise For…

"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 "Lyrical, expansive, aching, and alive, In Sensorium invites us to behold and be humbled, to boldly redraw the old maps, to not only recover what has been erased, but to wildly create what has never been and is forever possible. “I write to imagine freedom, even though I write in the language of power.” In this book, language is a portal and language is a world and language is a syncretic invention. Kaleidoscopic in scope, each page unfolds into a dazzling spiral as Tanaïs weaves personal histories into the history of Bangladesh and South Asia. These meditations on ancestral violence, war, the feminine divine, scent, erotic dreamscapes, rage, belonging, beauty, liberation and familial inheritances pulse with voluptuous longing. This work requires attention and deep devotion." —Jenny Zhang, author of Sour Heart and My Baby First Birthday "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." —Publisher's Weekly
— No Source

Product Details
ISBN: 9780358381709
ISBN-10: 0358381703
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Pages: 352
Language: English