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.

Escape Acts

Ursula and MLQ discuss a moving new book documenting the suffering and the resourcefulness of Yazidi women taken captive by Daesh, and the efforts to help them escape; and the perversely dull newspaper columns of the great Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz. Show notes Dunya Mikhail’s The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraqis coming out…

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Soft Power

We discussed our recent readings. This includes some early foreign reporting on Morocco, which is both vivid and prejudiced; a moving account of the way Moroccan political prisoners clung to their memories and their words and refused to be fully “disappeared” during the country’s decades of repression; and a collection of beautifully translate and unusual…

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Court Jesters and Black Mirrors

In this episode we discuss Moroccan literature about the country’s “years of lead” and its formidable and ruthless former king Hassan II; and about the relationship between humour, fear and power. We look at literary awards and what they are good for, and why Arablit has decided to create a new award. And we ask:…

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Sacred Cows

In this episode of BULAQ we highlight several new and forthcoming translations from Arabic to English. We also discuss the newly translated Concerto Al Quds by the renowned Syrian poet Adonis, as well as Adonis’ own status as an artist and public intellectual, and his stance on religion and revolution. Show notes ArabLit’s list of…

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No Happy Endings

In this episode, we look back at 2017 about talk books published in the past year: notable books, favorite books, books we felt were overlooked, books we don’t quite agree on, and books we can’t wait to read. We also discuss how not to write about “discovering” Arabic and the Arab world. Show notes ArabLit’s…

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Palestinian literature: regrets, tough choices and teen adventures

President Trump just recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – a move that acknowledges only a single Israeli narrative. We discuss Palestinian writers and how they write about their relationships with Israelis; about living with trauma and danger; about coming of age under occupation. We also look at the emerging field of children’s and…

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Know Your Audience

In which we discuss the fictional underworlds of Rabee Jaber and other Lebanese novelists; and explore Saudi poetry, from a new translation of a famous pre-Islamic collection to the satirical poems of “a grumpy old man” in the Najd in the 18th century. At this time when women are denouncing male abuses of power the…

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Belonging to Oneself

In the midst of a crackdown on gay men in Egypt, we discuss Mohammed Abdel Nabi’s novel about being gay in Cairo, In The Spider’s Room.Also: a portrait of a love-hate relationship with a Cairo neighborhood, an award for Arabic Young Adult and children’s literature, a Saudi novelist under attack online, and a Palestinian poet…

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