How Tanwi Nandini Islam AKA Tanaïs Hones the Craft

From evocative perfume and lipstick line Hi Wildflower, to her debut novel Bright Lines, to a new book in the works, Tanaïs is uncategorizable — a multi-disciplinary artist through and through.

Fariha Róisín

June 6, 2019

How Tanwi Nandini Islam AKA Tanaïs Hones the Craft

“We’re literally Halloween together,” novelist and perfumer Tanwi Nandini Islam aka Tanaïs tells me as we sit in my living room, wrapped in conversation. She’s referring to our outfits: hers a pumpkin orange ribbed slip, mine a black and floral cheongsam salwar. Together, we are Halloween. Coyly, she adds, “this is The Craft, Bangla edition — bitch!”

I am in awe of Tanaïs, who coined her new moniker from the first two initials of her full name (Tanwi-Nandini-Islam) after she was selected in a roundup of “Muslim Woman Writers” last year. In the writer's words, the selection felt unthoughtful — lumping a bunch of folks together who shared a similar heritage, but potentially not much else.

The identification made no room for her complexity, her various (sometimes oppositional, she’s a Libra, ever-in-pursuit of balance) identities. Now, she goes by Tanaïs and sees it as a way of: “connecting to something that’s a more non-binary hegemonic space.” Tanaïs added, “we’re always being categorized, always being put into a box.”

But Tanaïs is uncategorizable — a multi-disciplinary artist through and through.