Tanaïs, is a name I've given myself, is a portmanteau of the first two letters of my three names — a name that came to me after appearing on that list as a Muslim woman writer. I wanted to find a meridian between identities that honor where I’ve come from and where I am headed.
Tanaïs (née Tanwi Nandini Islam) is a writer and perfumer based in New York City. They are the author of the critically-acclaimed novel BRIGHT LINES (Penguin 2015), which was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, the Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize, and was the inaugural selection of the First Lady of NYC's Gracie Book Club, as well as Bustle's American Woman Book Club.
Their work is multi-disciplinary, dynamic, intersectional and feminist. Over the course of their career, they’ve worked as a community organizer, a domestic violence court advocate, a probations intake officer, and youth arts educator. While researching their debut novel, BRIGHT LINES, Tanaïs studied perfumery, amassing a library of 500 fragrant raw materials, which led to the creation of Hi Wildflower, an award-winning beauty and fragrance brand.
Constant evolution and growth compelled Tanaïs to imagine new scents inspired by their next book, IN SENSORIUM: Notes for My People (HMH 2022), which explores scent, sensuality, South Asian and Muslim perfume cultures, colonization and its aftermath: the environmental and border crises around the world.
Their podcast and perfume anthology project, MALA, features interviews with survivors of violence, who reimagine their memories as scents. Season 1, featured five formerly incarcerated women in the NYS Penal System.