Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a 1985 literary historical cross-genre novel (originally published in German as Das Parfum) by German writer Patrick Süskind. The novel explores the sense of smell and its relationship with the emotional meaning that scents may carry. It is a story of identity, communication and the morality of the human spirit.
The story centers on Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an unloved 18th-century French orphan who is born with an exceptional sense of smell, being able to distinguish a vast range of scents in the world around him. Grenouille becomes a perfumer but is drawn to murder when he encounters a young girl with an unsurpassed wondrous scent.
With translations into 48 languages and over 20 million copies sold to date worldwide, 'Perfume' is one of the largest book sales among 20th Century German novels. The title remained in bestseller lists for about 9 years, and received almost unanimously positive national and international critical acclaim. The novel was translated into English by John E. Woods and won the PEN Translation Prize in 1987.