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.

Walking Through Fire: A Look Back at Nawal El Saadawi

The Egyptian feminist writer and doctor Nawal El Saadawi always spoke her mind. Her early books were explosive testimonials, based on her medical practice and personal experience, about sexual double standards and the abuses women faced because of them. She went on to write many more books, including novels, plays and several memoirs. Over the…

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Warda: Diary of a Revolutionary

Sonallah Ibrahim’s Warda is the story of a female fighter in the 1960s and 70s Dhofar rebellion in Oman, and of the Egyptian intellectual who, decades later, tries to solve the mystery of what happened to her. We discuss the vibrant and mysterious female character at the heart of one of Ibrahim’s most ambitious literary…

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Football Writing: The Passion and the Provocation

Football and Arabic literature haven’t always had an easy relationship. Football has inspired famous authors like Mahmoud Darwish, and anonymous fans who have composed powerful stadium chants. But the sport is sometimes looked down on by writers. We celebrate the sport and its chroniclers, featured in the FOOTBALL-themed fall 2021 issue of ArabLit Quarterly. SHOW…

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What You May Have Missed

We’re back! Catch up on everything you missed over the summer, including Women in Translation Month and a Fall reading list full of intriguing new titles. Show Notes: In our opening, Marcia reads “Four Years Without You” (For Mahmoud Darwish) by Samar Abdel Jabar, trans. Zeina Hashem Beck August was Women in Translation Month with…

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Iman Mersal: Books You Need To Read & Need to Write

Iman Mersal’s work spans poetry and scholarship, personal essay and biography. In 2021, Mersal received the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for her deeply insightful prose work In the Footsteps of Enayat al-Zayyat. SHOW NOTES This podcast is produced in collaboration with the Sheikh Zayed Book Award. The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is one of the…

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Impostures: A Rogue’s Many Tales

The Maqamat of Al-Hariri is a story collection from 11th century Iraq that showcases the Arabic language’s dazzling, disorienting possibilities. Michael Cooperson received the 2021 Sheikh Zayed Book Award for his ground-breaking translation. SHOW NOTES This podcast is produced in collaboration with the Sheikh Zayed Book Award. The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is one of…

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Driss Chraibi’s Portrait of an Angry Young Man

This episode focuses on Driss Chraibi’s The Simple Past (Le Passé Simple), a Moroccan novel about a very angry young man in revolt against his father’s tyranny and the hypocrisies of his colonial education. Back in 1954, it was compared to an explosion – and it still packs a punch today. Show Notes: The Simple…

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A Conversation in Cairo About Making Art Under Pressure

We recorded this episode in Cairo with author, translator, and Mada Masr culture editor Yasmine Zohdi. We talked about making art in difficult and precarious times; how to acknowledge the political context; censorship and self-censorship. “What we talk about when we talk about trees,” by Yasmine Zohdi, ran in Mada Masr in December of last…

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Karl Sharro Only Takes Soccer Seriously

We talk to humorist Karl Sharro about the origins story of his Twitter alter-ego Karl ReMarks and about finding the ideal online nemesis. Marcia takes issue with a new book listing the “hundred best novels in translation.” Show notes Karl Sharro spoke about Karl ReMarks’ new book,And then God Created the Middle East and Said…

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The Interesting Case of a Saudi Novel

In Aziz Muhammad’s The Critical Case of a Man Named K, an unnamed narrator is diagnosed with leukemia. His 40-week journal, shaped by his readings of Kafka, Thomas Mann, Ernest Hemingway and Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, sarcastically and movingly documents his alienation from his body, his surroundings and even, eventually, from books. Show Notes: An interview with…

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