BULAQ show


Summary: 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 co-produced by ArabLit and The Arabist and is hosted by Ursula Lindsey and M Lynx Qualey.

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  • Artist: Ursula Lindsey and M Lynx Qualey
  • Copyright: Ursula Lindsey and M Lynx Qualey


 40: The Revolution While Dreaming | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 56:28

"I chose to be a Trojan poet. I'm resolutely in the camp of the losers. The losers who are deprived of the right to leave a trace of their defeat and deprived of the right of proclaiming it. I'm inclined to speak of defeat, but there is no question of surrender." So said Mahmoud Darwish, as we learned from a new collection of poetry with the late, great Palestinian poet. We also talk about protests in Lebanon and freedom of the press in Egypt.

 39: Writers Are Not Magic | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 59:09

A 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, and how radical their calls for personal freedom really are.

 38: "Insufficiently Westernized" | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 58:45

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.

 37: Disappearing Palestinians | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 54:09

We talk about Palestinian literary festivals (one old and one new); an author who lost a prize for supporting BDS; and a novel that asks: What would happen if all the Palestinians disappeared?

 36: Out of Egypt | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 50.46

Ursula Lindsey and MLQ are back for another season of Bulaq. In this episode they discuss Egypt, exiles, protests and how hard it is to translate humor.

 35: Trash Talk | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 1.04.47

On less-than-fun translation work, the Shubbak literary festival, and plans for the future

 34: Invisibility | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 1.16.00
 33: Our Women on the Ground | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 49.32

We spend most of today’s episode talking about a forthcoming 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.

 32: Work-lit Balance | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 01:04:44

This week we talk about how MLQ’s latest passion project, the Arab Lit Quarterly, and the ups and downs of making a living (sort of) writing about books.

 31: This Takes the Prize | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 00:58:24

MLQ is back from Abu Dhabi, and we talk about the recently awarded International Prize for Arabic Fiction — and an unfortunate controversy this year, involving leaks, no-shows, and calls for prosecution — and the book fair. We also share excerpts from the winning book and from several of the short-listed ones.

 30: The Case of Alaa al-Aswany | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 01:13:47

We talk about the career of the best-selling Egyptian novelist Alaa al-Aswany – who like many other artists is on the outs with the country’s military regime now. Also, about Shakespeare productions and censorship in Gulf countries; and book reviews in the age of online algorithms and the culture of positivity.

 29: Not Quite On The Same Page | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 01:09:51

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, or the ability, to tell certain stories. 

 28: Sentenced To Hope | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 00:59:35

We spend most of this episode discussing the work and life of the Syrian playwright Saadallah Wannous, and how strongly it relates to repression, resistance and art in the Arab region today.

 27: Where Do I Start? | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 00:56:14
 26: Bad Parents | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 00:56:37

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 scene in Casablanca.


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