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.

The case of Alaa al-Aswany

We talk about the career of the best-selling Egyptian novelist Alaa al-Aswany – who like many other artists is on the outs with the country’s military regime now. Also, about Shakespeare productions and censorship in Gulf countries; and book reviews in the age of online algorithms and the culture of positivity.

Show notes

  • At the end of February,Youm7reportedthat a lawyer submitted a complaint to the Prosecutor-General (No. 2697 of 2019) against Egyptian novelist Alaa al-Aswany, in which he accused the author ofThe Yacoubian BuildingandThe So-Called Republicof spreading false news, as well as cynicism and ridicule of the state’s leaders on social media. This story spread and, in mid-March,Mesreyounreported that a lawyerhad fileda complaint with the military prosecutor. It’s still unclear what’s happening; the NGO ANHRIhas asked whether political “hesba” lawsuits can now be filedin military courts; there has not yet been an official answer. Thanks toTIMEPfor assistance in sorting all this out. (Back in 2013, Al Aswany, like the vast majority of Egyptian artist and intellectuals, justified violence against members of the Muslim Brotherhood andsupported their overthrow.)

  • The actorsAmr Waked and Khaled Abol Nagahave been prosecuted and smeared recently for speaking out against Egyptian government repression.

  • Ursula’s “heart-breaking”interview with Sonallah Ibrahimwas published in Mada Masr in 2013.

  • Palgrave Macmillan published Katharine Hennessey’sShakespeare on the Arabian Peninsulain 2018.

  • And in the last issue Harper’sChristian Lorentzenwrites about the art of criticism in the age of algorithms, inLike This or Die.”

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