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.

Not Quite On The Same Page

In this episode we rave about an Omani novel – a multi-generational saga that is “anti-romantic and anti-nationalistic.” We also discuss a dark family road trip through Syria, and works from Lebanon and Morocco. And we delve into the larger question of how much a writer’s identity and experience gives him or her the right,…

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Sentenced to Hope

We spend most of this episode discussing the work and life of the Syrian playwright Sa’dallah Wannous, and how strongly it relates to repression, resistance and art in the Arab region today. SHOW NOTES: A new Sa’dallah Wannous reader, Sentence to Hope (ed. and trans. Robert Myers and Nada Saab) brings together four translations of…

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Where Do I Start?

What should you recommend to someone who is interested in exploring Arabic literature? We tackle this big question this week; we also talk about the authors short-listed on the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and about North African literature in English translation. Show notes: There are many opinions on where you should start with Arabic…

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Bad Parents

We’re back! And ready to talk about two poets who have moved into prose: the Egyptian Iman Mersal and the Palestinian Mazen Maarouf, who have written books that explore the bonds between children and parents, among other things. We also talk about the Cairo book fair’s recent make-over, and about the vibrant but struggling cultural…

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Lists!

Ursula and MLQ look back at notable books from 2018 and at reads they are looking forward to catching up on over the holiday break. Show notes ‘Tis the season for “best of” lists. Ursula wrote aboutNotable Books of 2018 From and About the Arab World in Al-Fanar; a number of them are books we…

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Poems That Cross Language and Time

We overcame communication blocks and interrupting children to speak to the poet Zeina Hashem Beck about how she’s given herself permission to write poems that move between English and Arabic. We also discuss James Montgomery’s heart-breaking essay on grief, memory, trauma and translating a 7thcentury Arabic poet famous for her elegies. Show notes: Zeina Hashem…

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Returns And Beginnings

In this episode we talk about recent developments in Cairo, kids’ literature in Arabic, Naguib Mahfouz, and the launch of Marcia’s new project, the literary magazine ArabLit Quarterly. Show notes It was at theOctober 22 outreach symposium in Cairo that MLQ launched “ArabKidLitNow!” – a collective for the promotion of Arabic children’s literature in translation….

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Interview with Ganzeer

This week we talk to an old Cairo friend, acclaimed Egyptian artist Ganzeer, about art, propaganda, publishing and how much damn work it is to put out a graphic novel. Show notes The work of artist and writer Ganzeer can be found at ganzeer.com, thesolargrid.net, and timesnewhuman.com. You can sign up for his newsletter at…

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Stolen in Translation

We talk about looking down on dialect; passing literary theft off as “salvation”; the beginning of awards season; a book that is a fragmented portrait of Jerusalem; and our fellow podcasters in the region. Show notes The controversy over the appearance ofsome darija (Moroccan colloquial) words in a Moroccan school textbookreached the highest levels of…

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Back To School

We talk about the relationships between education and literature; about a devastating entry in the prison memoir genre, from Syria; about the legacy of V.S. Naipaul; and about why Kuwait is the worst offender in the region for censoring books. Show notes This was our back to school episode, informed by the scholarship of Erin…

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