Noreen Masud: A Flat Place


Thursday 27th April 2023, 6:30pm, £5

Storysmith, 236 North Street, Bristol, BS3 1JD

We’re feeling very lucky and insufferably excited to be hosting the publication-day event for Noreen Masud‘s stunning and radical new blend of memoir and nature writing, A Flat Place. This beguiling book takes us through flatlands as disparate as Lahore and Orkney, and a complex web of family and colonial histories.

We’re also deeply stoked to have writer and academic (and shop fave) Samantha Walton chairing this event.

Tickets include a glass of wine. Pre-order your hardback copy of A Flat Place (rrp £16.99) for a special discounted price with your ticket, then collect on the night!

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About Noreen Masud

Noreen Masud was born and raised in Pakistan. She is a literary scholar working on the twentieth century, writing about things which, in one way or another, present variously as absurd, unrevealing, embarrassing or useless. These include aphorisms, flatness, spivs, puppets, nonsense, leftovers, earworms, footnotes, rhymes, hymns, surprises, folk songs, colours and superstition. She is an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker 2020, and a Lecturer in Twentieth Century Literature at the University of Bristol. Her first academic book is Hard Language: Stevie Smith and the Aphorism, forthcoming with OUP, and her first trade non-fiction book A Flat Place is published by Hamish Hamilton (UK) and Melville House (US).

About A Flat Place

Raw and radical, strange and beguiling – a love letter to Britain’s breathtaking flatlands, from Orford Ness to Orkney, and a reckoning with the painful, hidden histories they containFor readers of W. G. Sebald’s Rings of Saturn, Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun and Richard Mabey’s Nature CureNoreen Masud has always loved flatlands.

Her earliest memory is of a wide, flat field glimpsed from the back seat of her father’s car in Lahore. As an adult in Britain she has discovered many more flat landscapes to love: Orford Ness, the Cambridgeshire Fens, Morecambe Bay, Orkney. These bare, haunted expanses remind her of the flat place inside herself: the place created by trauma.

Noreen suffers from complex post-traumatic stress disorder: the product of a profoundly disrupted and unstable childhood. It flattens her emotions, blanks out parts of her memory, and colours her world with anxiety. Undertaking a pilgrimage around Britain’s flatlands, seeking solace and belonging, she weaves her impressions of the natural world with poetry, folklore and history, and with recollections of her own early life.

Noreen’s British-Pakistani heritage makes her a partial outsider in these landscapes: both coloniser and colonised, inheritor and dispossessed. Here violence lies beneath the fantasy of pastoral innocence, and histories of harm are interwoven with nature’s power to heal. Here, as in her own family history, are many stories that resist the telling.

She pursues these paradoxes fearlessly across the flat, haunted spaces she loves, offering a startlingly strange, vivid and intimate account of the land beneath her feet.

About Samantha Walton

Samantha Walton is a nature writer and academic based at Bath Spa University. Her book Everybody Needs Beauty: In Search of the Nature Cure, is published by Bloomsbury.

Location 236 North Street, Bristol, BS3 1JD Phone 0117 953 7961 E-mail Hours Tuesday-Saturday: 10am-6pm | Sunday: 11am-4pm | Monday: closed
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