The Emperor of Scent tells of the scientific maverick Luca Turin, a connoisseur and something of an aesthete who wrote a bestselling perfume guide and bandied about an outrageous new theory on the human sense of smell. Drawing on cutting-edge work in biology, chemistry, and physics, Turin used his obsession with perfume and his eerie gift for smell to turn the cloistered worlds of the smell business and science upside down, leading to a solution to the last great mystery of the senses: how the nose works.
About the Author
Chandler Burr is the author of A Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual Orientation. He has contributed to The Atlantic and has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications.
"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, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
"Professional perfume critic, obsessive collector of rare fragrances, academic-bad-boy biochemist and world-class eccentric, Luca Turin would be the worthy subject of a book even if he hadn't come up with a revolutionary scientific theory. Written with skill and verve, The Emperor of Scent is an engrossing intellectual detective story about one iconoclast's quest to solve a centuries-old mystery--how smell works."
-Miles Harvey, author of The Island of Lost Maps
"The Emperor of Scent is a gem of a book--a suspense story at whose heart is a man of super-human powers who is also flawed and justifiably arrogant and dangerously steeped in hubris. I challenge any intelligent, curious mind not to tumble into this story and find themselves immediately engrossed. I fell in love with Luca Turin--he is everything I admire in a human: irreverent, witty, imaginative, determined, elitist without a trace of snobbery and above all a creative genius. And Chandler Burr is a magician himself, and a man we should all be so lucky to have at a dinner party: I was mesmerized and enlightened by the many perfect asides woven into the main body of this incredible true tale."
-Alexandra Fuller, author of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
“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 [of scent] once and for all? That’s what readers find out in this often funny, picaresque exposé of the closed world of whiffs, aromas and odors—and the people who study them.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Exhibiting more grace than a magician in tails, Chandler Burr brings science and the people who practice it to life in The Emperor of Scent. . . . Burr does a remarkable job of explaining both Turin, the man behind the idea, and his science.”
—The Denver Post
“Chandler Burr . . . has transformed a chance meeting with a curious biophysicist named Luca Turin into an amusing and poetic adventure in science and art.”
—The Washington Post