Fort Greene

Brooklynite’s debut novel inspired by her family’s Bangladeshi history

Brooklyn BookBeat: Author to Speak in Fort Greene This Summer

July 22, 2015 Brooklyn BookBeat
Tanwi Nandini Islam will speak about her debut novel “Bright Lines” at Greenlight Bookstore (686 Fulton St.) in Fort Greene on Aug. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Photo by Scott Dunn
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Tanwi Nandini Islam, author of “Bright Lines: A Novel” (A Penguin Paperback Original; on sale Aug. 11, 2015), is a new voice in literary fiction, and she writes passionately about the complex political and cultural histories of her Bangladeshi-American characters. In this debut novel, she tells the powerful story of one family and three young women coming of age in Brooklyn and Bangladesh.

The author will appear at Greenlight Bookstore at 686 Fulton St. in Fort Greene at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 11 for a book launch event.

For as long as she can remember, Ella has longed to feel at home. Orphaned as a child after her parents’ murder in the aftermath of the Bangladesh Liberation War, Ella came to Brooklyn to live with the Saleem family: her uncle Anwar, aunt Hashi and their daughter, Charu, from whom she couldn’t be more different. Ella has never felt entirely comfortable in her own body and spends hours tending the garden behind the Saleems’ brownstone.

When Ella returns home from college one summer, she is surprised to discover Charu’s friend Maya — a local Islamic cleric’s runaway daughter — asleep in her bedroom. The two grow close, and suddenly Ella is forced to come to terms with her sexuality and the increasingly blurry line between friendship and love.

As the girls harbor their secrets, Anwar — owner of a popular neighborhood apothecary — has his own, one that threatens his 30-year marriage. When tragedy strikes and the Saleems are blamed, it nearly tears apart the family. Ella, Charu, Anwar and Hashi travel to Bangladesh to reckon with the past, their extended family and each other.

Inspired in part by Tanwi’s trips to Bangladesh to visit the village where her parents grew up and to research the Bangladesh Liberation War, “Bright Lines” encompasses issues of immigration, feminism, gender, coming of age, botany and fashion.

Tanwi Nandini Islam is a writer, multimedia artist, and founder of Hi Wildflower Botanica, a handcrafted natural perfume and skincare line. Her writing has appeared on, and, and in the Feminist Wire, Open City, and Hyphen magazine. A graduate of Vassar College and Brooklyn College’s MFA program, she currently lives in Brooklyn.   

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