Episode # 30

Bright Lines
A Novel

Tanwi Nandini Islam

A vibrant debut novel, set in Brooklyn and Bangladesh, follows three young women and one family struggling to make peace with secrets and their past.
Read More »


On Sale Date:


Penguin Books
Trade Paperback
304 pgs.
Penguin Books


View Chat Archive

Sign Up Today! Click Here


Bright Lines

A vibrant debut novel, set in Brooklyn and Bangladesh, follows three young women and one family struggling to make peace with secrets and their past.

For as long as she can remember, Ella has longed to feel at home. Orphaned as a child after her parents’ murder, and afflicted with hallucinations at dusk, she’s always felt more at ease in nature than with people. She traveled from Bangladesh to Brooklyn to live with the Saleems: her uncle Anwar, aunt Hashi, and their beautiful daughter, Charu, her complete opposite. One summer, when Ella returns home from college, she discovers Charu’s friend Maya—an Islamic cleric’s runaway daughter—asleep in her bedroom.

As the girls have a summer of clandestine adventure and sexual awakenings, Anwar—owner of a popular botanical apothecary—has his own secrets, threatening his thirty-year marriage. But when tragedy strikes, the Saleems find themselves blamed. To keep his family from unraveling, Anwar takes them on a fated trip to Bangladesh, to reckon with the past, their extended family, and each other.

Praise for Bright Lines

“Every detail in this rich novel is evocative of transformation…. A sensitive and subtle exploration of the experience of gender nonconformity across cultures…. A transcontinental, transgenerational tale of a family and its secrets.”
Kirkus Reviews

Bright Linesis the most daring, emotionally dense work I’ve ever read by a debut novelist. I can’t remember the last time a novel kept me breathless, wandering and reconsidering the decisions of my own life. Tanwi Nandini Islam has created a fictive world where race, place, desire, violence and deception beautifully cling to nearly every page, and really every part of her Brooklyn and Bangladesh. She is completely unafraid of insides and outsides of the characters she’s created. I dreamt about Ella and Anwar for weeks long after I finished the book. I’m sure the characters here, and the actual range of Islam’s talent will wonderfully haunt readers for a lifetime. Bright Lines is brilliant and absolutely soulful.”
Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division.

“Whether it’s entirely fictional or not (and I really don’t care) the New York City of Tanwi Nandini Islam’s novel is the one I want to live in! What a radiant, abundant, worldly, sharp and spirited novel! And what a good and powerful imagination, heart and soul seems to have produced it. Bright Lines is very special.”
Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name.

Tanwi Nandini Islam is a writer, multimedia artist, and founder of Hi Wildflower Botanica, a handcrafted natural perfume and skincare line. A graduate of Vassar College and Brooklyn College’s MFA program, she lives in Brooklyn.