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BULAQ | بولاق

Arts • News • Society-and-culture

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 toRead more

Popular episodes

The Book of Travels

Nov 25 • 01:02:52

We talk to scholar Elias Muhanna about translating a magical, delightful eighteenth-century travelogue. In 1707 Hanna Diyab journeyed from his native Aleppo as translator to a rapacious and sometimes ridiculous Frenchman. He survived a shipwreck and a pirate attack, met King Louis XIV, and gave TheThousand and One Nights translator Antoine Galland a dozen new stories. Chea...

So Kill Them Back!

Nov 11 • 01:03:52

We look at new writing from Syria and about the experiences of Syrian refugees, including Ramy Al-Asheq’s Ever Since I Did Not Die, a book he categorizes not as poetry or prose but as “pieces of my body, haphazardly brought together in a paper bag.”...

Poems from Palestine

Oct 28 • 58:42

We read from the work of Palestinian poets Maya Abu Al Hayyat, Fady Joudah, Asma Azaizeh and Najwan Darwish, who writes: “Death has liberated me/ from the shackles of our small jailers,/ just as poetry has liberated us/ from the greatest jailer–time.”...

Walking Through Fire: A Look Back at Nawal El Saadawi

Oct 14 • 01:05:12

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 course of her life she was ja...

Warda: Diary of a Revolutionary

Oct 3 • 01:07:14

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 projects with scholar, editor and translator Hosam Ab...

Football Writing: The Passion and the Provocation

Sep 16 • 51:36

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....

What You May Have Missed

Sep 2 • 01:02:45

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. ...

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

Aug 12 • 01:03:56

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. ...

Impostures: A Rogue’s Many Tales

Jul 15 • 01:03:39

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. ...

Driss Chraibi’s Portrait of an Angry Young Man

Jul 1 • 56:43

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. ...

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