tanwi nandini islam

Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize // Finalist for the Edmund White LGBTQ Debut Fiction Award // First Novel in First Lady of NYC Chirlane McCray's Gracie Book Club

  • Finalist for the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
  • Finalist for the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award
  • First Selection for the First Lady of NYC Chirlane McCray's Gracie Book Club

"The joys of this book are many, and I loved in particular the complexity of its characters and the beauty of its landscape."

—Laila Lalami, Author of The Moor's Account

"Tanwi Nandini Islam’s debut novel Bright Lines is a robust, multi-voiced story spanning from Brooklyn to Bangladesh and back; she introduces us to South Asian American characters we’ve never seen before."

—Neelanjana Banerjee, LA Review of Books

“A Brooklyn-by-way-of-Bangladesh Royal Tenenbaums. A pot-tinged, PTSD Muslim Sesame Street. With sex. Hallucinations, hijabs and handlebars on the always-busy Atlantic Avenue. The New York sense of place inBright Lines rivals the recent memory of Teju Cole’s Open City.”
The Denver Post
“Tanwi Nandini Islam makes waves with her debut novel, which traverses from Bangaldesh to Brooklyn exploring the secrets of three young women.”
Time magazine

“The miracles in Bright Lines are the understated moments of family telepathy. . . . An understated queer coming-of-age, a study of how much work it is to be a family, and a snapshot of a disappearing Brooklyn, set against the ghosts of the past, and a search for home.”

“Tanwi Nandini Islam has given Zadie Smith’s White Teeth an American cousin where the characters of Bangladeshi origin are situated in America (Brooklyn to be exact) and not London. It’s a story of immigrants and their children, family secrets, and feeling like a stranger in a place you’re told is home. It’s a damn fine first book–easily one of the best debuts of the year.”
Jason Diamond, Electric Literature

“Lush and vibrant, Tanwi Nandini Islam comes rushing out of the gate with her debut that has a lot of things (great characters, family story, history), but it’s her descriptions of Brooklyn streets and then the effortless move away to a place far away that shows this is a young writer who can control a story with the ease of a tested veteran.”
—Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“A brave, honest look at what it was like to be an 18-year-old Brooklynite in 2003, the daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants, teetering somewhere between innate rebelliousness and respect for heritage. Islam is an intuitive and inventive writer, and her story, which bounces between Brooklyn and Bangladesh, is wholly original. Don’t miss it.”

“A wonderful debut. . . . The beauty of this novel is that it perfectly merges fascinating narrative, honest characters, and the rich history and culture of Bangladesh with the juxtaposition of Bangladesh’s past and future and of that country with America, adding to the reading pleasure.”
—Library Journal (starred review)

“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

“Islam depicts lush Bangladesh and a gritty Brooklyn very well, and she’s at her strongest when following the free-spirited young women. The characters’ halfhearted feelings toward their Muslim identities provide an original and intriguing backdrop for their misadventures.” 
—Publishers Weekly

“Islam presents an unusual, involving, and evocative rites-of-passage tale enriched by multicultural, intergenerational, and gender-role conflicts and questions.”

Bright Lines is 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 among an emerging generation of American writers giving voice to people, places, and concerns that have escaped the notice of the mainstream. Such is the range of her talent that in her first novelBright Lines, Islam shows us two locales, Brooklyn and Bangladesh, that are as varied and vibrant as they are restrictive and horrible, no small achievement. Hats off!”
—Jeffery Renard Allen, author of Song of the Shank