Patrick Suskind's novel Perfume made real- the true history of a scientific genius with eerie powers of smell who uses his gifts to solve one of the body's last secrets- how the nose works.
Chandler Burr is the author of A Separate Creation- The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual Orientation. He has contributed to the Atlantic, was a Contributing Editor at US News & World Report, and has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications. He lives in New York.
The story of a famed scientist considered a genius of smell. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Nobody knows for sure what makes our noses work the way they do, not even the $20-billion-a-year perfume industry's legions of chemists, whose jobs depend on appealing to those noses. So what happens when Luca Turin, a likable scientist who happens to possess an unusually sensitive nose, proposes a new theory of smell that promises to unravel the mystery once and for all? That's what readers find out in this often funny, picaresque expos of the closed world of whiffs, aromas and odors-and the people who study them. Burr (A Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual Orientation) narrates in depth Turin's efforts to publish in the journal Nature: the maddening peer review process lasts more than a year and ends with smug dismissals by scientists who don't understand his work. Turin, whose urbane personality carries the book, runs into similar brick walls when he tries to sell his ideas to the "Big Boys" of the secretive and byzantine perfume industry. Burr, who is skilled at parsing complex science and smart turns of phrase, enters the story in the first person to describe his own difficulties as a journalist writing about Turin: critics clam up and get hostile when asked about Turin's theory. Burr concludes that the hysterical, often incoherent resistance portrayed here "embodies the failure of the scientific process." Grim words for a book so full of wit. (On sale Jan. 21) Forecast: This is science writing that's definitely not just for science readers, and major review attention should pay off with sales. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"The Emperor of Scent is a gem of a book- I was mesmerised and enlightened by the many perfect asides woven into the main body of this incredible true tale." -- Alexandra Fuller
"With the contagious enthusiasm of a nerd given the run of a chemistry lab, he has transformed a chance meeting with a curious biophysicist named Luca Turin into an amusing and poetic adventure in science and art." * Washington Post *
"Ebullient- a book that celebrates the randomness and arbitrariness of discovery while also translating complex science into the colloquial- as its title indicates, The Emperor of Scent presents a larger-than-life autocrat and his interesting, engaging eccentricities-an inspired, exhilarating view of idiosyncratic science" * New York Times *
"Fascinating and lucid- the details of Turin's work unfold like a revelation. For his part, Burr does a fine job of turning both the science and the academic jockeying around a possible publication in Nature into a pulse-racing affair." * New Yorker *
"A brilliant, feisty scientist at the center of a nasty, back-stabbing, utterly absorbing, cliff-hanging scramble for the Nobel Prize. The Emperor of Scent is a quirky, wonderful book." -- John Berendt