Series: BULAQ

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.

Getting Away With Murder

Our guest this week was once told there were no Algerian crime novels. She begs to differ. We discuss the many examples of the genre and its evolution in Algeria, Morocco and Egypt. Show Notes: Nadia Ghanem regularly covers Algerian and Moroccan literature — particularly crime fiction — for ArabLit. She has a wonderful crime-lit…

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Kitchen Talk

In this episode we explore the relationship between cooking and writing. With special guest Anny Gaul, we talk about the origins of national dishes such as couscous and koshary; medieval Arabic cook books; and representations of kitchens and cooking in Egyptian literature. Show Notes: Anny Gaul’s writing and recipes, including the one on “bad translations”…

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A Thousand And One Dreams

Poet, artist and translator Yasmine Seale is at work on a fresh translation of the Thousand and One Nights. Show Notes: An abbreviated version of The Nights will be coming out in Fall 2021, in Seale’s translation for W. W. Norton. The fuller Nights is currently set for 2023. You can follow the Nights Bot,…

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Paranormal

The adaptation of the Egyptian writer Ahmed Khaled Tawfik’s hugely popular horror/fantasy series into the Netflix show Paranormal has excited and in some cases disappointed the writer’s avid fan base. Show Notes: Here is the trailer for Netflix’s Paranormal series, and an article about Tawfik, a hugely prolific writer of sci-fi, horror and fantasy stories…

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Book Club: Season of Migration to the North

By listener demand, we re-read Season of Migration to the North, the 1966 classic by the Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih. Its unnamed narrator returns to his village “on a bend of the Nile” after being educated abroad — and confronts the enigmatic figure of Mustafa Sa’eed, who also once emigrated North, and whose string of…

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Love and Silence: Rediscovering Enayat El Zayat

We’re re-running one of our favorite episodes. In 1993, the Egyptian poet and writer Iman Mersal picked up an unknown novel by a forgotten writer from the 60s. And so began her long wanderings in search of Enayat El Zayat. El Zayat killed herself in 1963, four years before her book “Love and Silence” was…

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The Pillar of Salt

We discuss the classic 1953 novel by the Jewish Tunisian Francophone writer Albert Memmi, who died this year. This sharp and beautiful book is many things: a coming of age story, an account of colonialism, and a World War II novel. Its driven, unhappy narrator breaks with his community and family in search of a…

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Revolt Against the Sun

Nazik al-Mala’ika was an Iraqi woman poet of great influence and renown through the 1940s, 50s and 60s. She pioneered new poetic forms and re-invented a heritage of feminine, emotional, elegiac poetry-making. We are joined by scholar and translator Emily Drumsta to discuss a new bilingual collection of al-Mala’ika’s poetry, Revolt Against the Sun. The…

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Trailer: Fall 2020 Season of BULAQ

Ursula Lindsey and Marcia Lynx Qualey discuss books from across the Arab region and new translations from Arabic.

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The Cat Is Out of The Bag

This episode looks at the Fall 2020 issue of ArabLit Quarterly, which focuses on cats: in contemporary Arabic stories, in erotic poetry, in medieval scholarship, in Egyptian art, in Palestinian politics, and more. We read from: Ghada Samman’s “Beheading the Cat,” translated by Issa Boullata. The poetry of Rasha Omran, in the issue in Arabic,…

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