Hosted ByUrsula Lindsey & M Lynx Qualey

BULAQ is a podcast about contemporary writing from and about the Middle East and North Africa. We talk about books written in Aleppo, Cairo, Marrakech and beyond. We look at the Arab region through the lens of literature, and we look at literature -- what it does, why it matters, how it relates to society and history and politics -- from the point of view of this part of the world. BULAQ is hosted by Ursula Lindsey and M Lynx Qualey and co-produced by Sowt.

Talking Shit

Beirut writer Lina Mounzer reads from her essay “Waste Away: Notes on Beirut’s Broken Sewage System.” We discuss the current situation in Lebanon and literature that looks at the worlds beneath our feet.

Show Notes:

Lina Mounzer’s “Waste Away” appears in The Baffler; a slightly modified version is set to be published next week in the anthology Tales of Two Planets, ed. John Freeman.

Saleem Haddad’s “Song of the Birds,” in the anthology Palestine + 100, explores the problems of sewage at Palestinian shores.

Rabee Jaber’s Mehlis Report, translated to English by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, tells the tale of two cities: Beirut above and Beirut below.

Mounzer’s “Translating Trash” appeared last year in The Paris Review. Also, her “The Great Ponzi Scheme” predicted a Lebanese financial disaster in the New York Times last December.

Mounzer wasn’t alone. This essay from 2017 — “Abracadabra…broke” — also saw a looming economic crisis.

Ursula wrote about Lebanese protests last November in the NYR Daily: The Lebanese Street Asks: ‘Which Is Stronger, Sect or Hunger?

Favorite Lebanese literary magazines Samandal and Rusted Radishes continue to publish, although RR is re-imagining their budget and fundraising possibilities. Keep an eye out for their Patreon.

*Editor’s Note: Ursula incorrectly refers to a long-serving Lebanese prime minister. She meant Speaker of Parliament. Nabih Berri has held that position for nearly three decades.

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