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.

Ten out of Ten

We only took a one month break but there are so many new (and a few old) books to talk about! We put together a list of ten titles of interest to start out the Fall with. 1) Etel Adnan’s Shifting the Silence (out in September) is the latest by the 95-year-old Lebanese artist and…

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Women in Translation: The Frightened Ones

We talk about the Syrian writer Dima Wannous’ haunting novel The Frightened Ones, translated by Elisabeth Jacquette. It’s a book about fear, panic and anxiety — in one’s body and society, between generations and lovers — that is also somehow a great pleasure to read. Show Notes: The Frightened Ones was shortlisted for the 2018International…

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Women in Translation: Reporting While Arab and Female

We talk about a collection of essays by female journalists from the region. Guilt, anger, recklessness, determination. There are many different and movingly honest takes on reporting while Arab and female. Show Notes: You can also follow the contributors to this volume online: follow @ZahraHankir and @HindHassanNews on Lebanon; @Linaattalah, the editor of @madamasr, on…

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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…

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Murder, They Wrote

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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Widows, Conmen and Crimes

We discuss a book that tells the stories of women who rallied to ISIS; one that focuses on a Franco-Moroccan family grappling with the end of colonialism; and a picaresque, satirical novel from 1940s Egypt that has been recently re-discovered. Show Notes: Ursula’s review of Guest House for Young Widows, a book about women who…

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Tazmamart

We talk about Morocco’s most infamous secret prison; about fathers and sons; about survivors who tell their stories and writers who borrow (or steal?) them. Show Notes: Johanna Sellman “Memoirs from Tazmamart: Writing Strategies and Alternative Frameworks of Judgment” gives an overview of the survivors’ writing about Tazmamart through 2006. In 1999-2000,Mohamed Raisspublished an account…

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Locked-In Lit

We talk about a few new books — ones that provide a welcome escape, and ones that seem particularly daunting — and about how hard it is to write, read, think and imagine the future right now. Show Notes: Noor Naga’s novel-in-verse Washes, Prays was published this spring. You can read more about it on…

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Cold Trail

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 finally published. Mersal’s portrait of El Zayat…

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Tight Spaces

للاستماع إلى بودكاست بعد أمس http://aj.audio/click We discuss an acclaimed novel set during the first Palestinian Intifada and one inspired by a tiny, legendary bookstore in Algiers. Show Notes: This year, the International Prize for Arabic Fiction—which went to Abdelouahab Aissaoui’s The Spartan Court—and the Sheikh Zayed Book Award—which had winners in seven categories—both had…

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