The Arabist

Bulaq Podcast

BULAQ is a podcast about contemporary writing from and about the Middle East and North Africa. It looks at the Arab region through the lens of literature and at literature through the lens of current events. BULAQ is co-hosted by Ursula Lindsey and M Lynx Qualey and produced by Issandr El Amrani. 

View of Bulaq quarter, Cairo. HAY, Robert, Esq. Illustrations of Cairo, London, Tilt and Bogue, 1840.

View of Bulaq quarter, Cairo. HAY, Robert, Esq. Illustrations of Cairo, London, Tilt and Bogue, 1840.

BULAQ: The Arab world in books

BULAQ is a podcast about contemporary writing from and about the Middle East and North Africa. It looks at the Arab region through the lens of literature and at literature through the lens of current events.

BULAQ is co-hosted by Ursula Lindsey and M Lynx Qualey and produced by Issandr El Amrani. 

BULAQ is named after a neighborhood of Cairo that hosted the first active printing press in the region. Established in 1820, the Bulaq Press put out its first publication, an Italian-Arabic dictionary, in 1822.  

MLQ is a book critic, editor, ghostwriter, and literary consultant with a focus on Arab and Arabic literatures, particularly as they intersect with translation. She runs the blog ArabLit.

Ursula is a journalist and book critic who writes about education, literature, and politics in the Arab world. She contributes to The Nation, the New York TimesThe Point and The Arabist blog.   

Both Ursula and MLQ spent many years living in Cairo and are now based in Rabat, Morocco. 

You can subscribe to this podcast using this RSS feed or on iTunes.


3: 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 young adult literature in Arabic.

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2: 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 world over, we look at two Moroccan female writers who are critical of their societies and who face the question of how their work is received and represented at home and abroad. Asma Lamrabet proposes a progressive feminist re-reading of the Koran; Leila Slimani is an award-winning novelist who has written a book on “sexual misery” in Morocco.  

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EpisodesThe Editors
1: Belonging to Oneself

In the midst of 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 whose trial hinges on translation. 

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EpisodesThe Editors