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.

The Not So Simple Past

للاستماع إلى بودكاست بعد أمس http://aj.audio/click 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…

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The Elephant Is The Room

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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Writing to Remember

This episode is dedicated to the work of the Moroccan film-maker, novelist, artist, and poetAhmed Bouanani– much of which has yet to be released, and much of which was censored or destroyed in his own life.

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Work-Lit Balance

We talk about passion projects, the value of intellectual labor, and the ups and downs of making a living (sort of) writing about books.

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Top Five

We discuss some of our favorite books from the past year, and some titles we’re excited to get our hands on soon. Show Notes Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World, ed. Zahra Hankir Book of Disappearance by Ibtisam Azem, tr. Sinan Antoon Palestine + 100, ed. Basma…

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The Revolution While Dreaming

We talk about a newly released collection of five compelling and highly quotable interviews with the great late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, titled Palestine as Metaphor, translated by Amira El-Zein and Carolyn Forché.We also talk about recent protests in Lebanon and how they are being written about in Lebanese and international media, as well as…

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Writers Are Not Magic

In the first half of the episode, we paid tribute to Jordanian poet, activist, novelist, travel writer, and editor Amjad Nasser (1955-2019), who died at the end of October. In the second, we talked about the political space occupied by Moroccan-French writers Tahar Ben Jelloun and Leïla Slimani, particularly in the wake of the trial…

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“Insufficiently Westernized”

We discuss two novels set in Iraq — one featuring a despondent policeman, and one featuring a determined grandma and her donkey. Also, how John Updike once dismissed the great Saudi writer Abdelrahman Mounif as “insufficiently Westernized” to write a novel.

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Disappearing Palestinians

We talk about two festivals (one long-established, one brand new) that celebrate Palestinian literature; an author who was penalized for supporting BDS; and a book that asks the question: What would happen if Palestinians simply disappeared? (And once again we recorded this episode in the studio of the wonderful Sowt platform in Amman). Show Notes…

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Out of Egypt

Ursula & MLQ open the new season of BULAQ — recorded in Amman, under the auspices of the Sowt network — with a focus on Egypt. This episode’s reading is from Yasmine Zohdi’s translation of Muhammad al-Haj’s Sawiris-winning Nobody Mourns the City’s Cats, available in the Summer 2019 issue of ArabLit Quarterly. Azzurra Meringolo Scarfoglio’s…

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