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.

Naguib Mahfouz’s Banned Book

What was so controversial aboutChildren of the Alley, leading to it beingbanned for years in Egypt and to an attempt on the author’s life? How and when was it published, criticized, understood? Mohamed Shoair delves into all of this in his literary investigationThe Story of the Banned Book:Naguib Mahfouz’s Children Of The Alley (trans.Humphrey Davies)….

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80+ Bonus: Book Quiz

All this season, we will be doing short book-quiz episodes with prizes donated by ten distinguished publishers. In this bonus episode, we give the answer to the question from Episode 79, “Not Yet Defeated,” and a new challenge for listeners around our Episode 80 focus, Moroccan writer Malika Moustadraf. After you’ve listened, send your best…

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Just Different: Moroccan writer Malika Moustadraf

She was an outsider, an experimenter, a “rebel realist” and a feminist. You may not have read the short stories of Malika Moustadraf (1969-2006), since her work fell out of print after her untimely death. But tales of Moustadraf’s fierce talent never stopped circulating, and now her work is back in print in Arabic and…

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Not Yet Defeated

Egypt’s January 25 revolution was 11 years ago. Since then many of its young leaders have been persecuted and the history of what happened distorted or denied. We look at writing that remembers and resists. Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s You Have Not Yet Been Defeated was translated by a collective, and is out from Fizcarraldo Editions…

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We Read Ramallah

The Book of Ramallah collects stories set in and around Palestine’s administrative capital, which, Maya Abu Al-Hayat writes in her introduction, “represents this mirage, this glimmer of hope that isn’t real, to many writers.” Show Notes: Book of Ramallah, edited by Maya Abu Al-Hayat, is available from Comma Press. You can read “Love in Ramallah”…

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Midnight in Cairo

Raph Cormack is author ofMidnight in Cairo: The Divas of Egypt’s Roaring ‘20s, which chronicles the lives of many of Egypt’s biggest stars of the early twentieth century. Show Notes: The Amar Foundation has an archive of Mounira al-Mahdiyya songs such as the one we end the show with, “اسمع اغاني المهدية” Raph also wrote…

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Best of 2021

For our end-of-year book list, we made up our own categories — from “best poet I hadn’t heard of before” ” to “best book about cannibalism” to “best book that lived up to the hype” — and added a few more along the way. It’s a journey through 10 books that struck us and stayed…

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The Book of Travels

We talk to scholar Elias Muhanna about translating a magical, delightful eighteenth-century travelogue. In 1707 Hanna Diyab journeyed from his native Aleppo as translator to a rapacious and sometimes ridiculous Frenchman. He survived a shipwreck and a pirate attack, met King Louis XIV, and gave The Thousand and One Nights translator Antoine Galland a dozen…

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So Kill Them Back!

We look at new writing from Syria and about the experiences of Syrian refugees, including Ramy Al-Asheq’s Ever Since I Did Not Die, a book he categorizes not as poetry or prose but as “pieces of my body, haphazardly brought together in a paper bag.” Show Notes Ramy Al-Asheq’s Ever Since I Did Not Die…

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Poems from Palestine

We read from the work of Palestinian poets Maya Abu Al Hayyat, Fady Joudah, Asmaa Azaizeh and Najwan Darwish, who writes: “Death has liberated me/ from the shackles of our small jailers,/ just as poetry has liberated us/ from the greatest jailer–time.” Show Notes In Palestine these days, the olive harvest is under assault from…

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