Studio 360

Scents and Sensibilities

How a perfumer concocts a scent from Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the mysterious betrayal at the heart of the documentary Shirkers, and making sense of “American Pie.”

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Kurt Andersen talks with Sandi Tan, who shot a film as an 18-year-old in Singapore in 1992, but the footage disappeared. She finally got her hands on the footage a few years ago, and the mystery of its disappearance is the subject of her new documentary, Shirkers. Then, Tanwi Nandini Islam is both a novelist and a perfumer—and she demonstrates how she applies both of those talents to create a fragrance based on the Toni Morrison novel Beloved. And getting to the bottom of the hidden meanings and long life of Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

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