Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a 1985 literary historical fantasy novel (published originally in German as Das Parfum, pronounced [das paʁˈfœ̃ː]) by German writer Patrick Süskind. The novel explores the sense of smell and its relationship with the emotional meaning that scents may have.
The story mainly concerns 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 becomes interested in murder when he encounters a young girl with an unsurpassed wondrous scent.
With translations into 49 languages and more than 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 during 1987.
Some editions of Perfume, including the first, have as their cover image Antoine Watteau's painting Jupiter and Antiope, which depicts a sleeping woman.