How Can We Take Solace in Flat Landscapes? Noreen Masud
‘Flat landscapes had always given meaning to a world that made no sense to me,’ writes Noreen Masud. Growing up in a crowded home in Lahore to a British mother and Pakistani father, the empty surrounding fields offered the ‘fantasy of space to stretch out in, and distance from the chaos at home.’
In her memoir, A Flat Place, Masud explores the intersection between memory, mind, painful histories and the breathtaking flatlands she has come to love since arriving in the UK.
While mountains are usually celebrated in literature and popular culture, Masud has a profound respect for and appreciation of the quietening effect of flat landscapes. She also suggests that flat landscapes provide solace for those of us who don’t experience the conventionally heightened feeling which are such a symptom of our fast-paced social media-driven world.
Reflecting on the poetry, folklore and history written about these flat landscapes, Masud reckons with her memories, family history and relationship with these spaces. In conversation with Olivia Sweeney.
A Flat Place by Noreen Masud is published by Penguin. The book will be available to buy from Waterstones on the night.
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Noreen Masud is a Lecturer in Twentieth Century Literature at the University of Bristol, and an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker. Her research covers all kinds of bases: flatness, spivs, puppets, leftovers, earworms, footnotes, rhymes, hymns, surprises, folk songs, colours and superstitions. She works mostly on 20th-century literature, but makes forays into Victorian and Romantic literature too.
Olivia Sweeney is a lifetime environmentalist and a former Black and Green Ambassador. As part of this, she and two other ambassadors were invited to share the outcomes of their work in the Blue Zone at COP 26. She hosts a Tuesday morning breakfast radio show on Ujima Radio as well as working for a sustainable waste consultancy trying to make it easier for people to reduce their waste, recycle and build the circular economy. She was named one of the Top 100 most Influential Women in Engineering by FT in 2019 and one of Rife Magazine’s 30 under 30 in 2022. She is an advocate for equity and justice in all forms.
Image credit: eyes up film
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