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.


34: Invisibility

We have novelist Ruqaya Izziddien as our guest in this episode, to discuss her debut novel The Watermelon Boys, her blog Muslim Impossible and the need for more narratives in English that accurately represent Arab voices and history. We also talk about George Orwell’s 1939 essay “Marrakech.”

Show Notes

  • Our guest this episode was Ruqaya Izzidien, author of The Watermelon Boys, which was shortlisted for this year’s Betty Trask Prize. Ruqaya will also be appearing June 30 at the Shubbak Festival in London, on a panel with Inaam Kachachi and Rabai al-Madhoun, and possibly Hammour Ziada.

  • Hanna Diyab is acknowledged -- in Antoine Galland's diary and is Diyab's own writings -- as the author of the "Aladdin" story commonly bundled in with the 1001 Nights. A French translation of Diyab’s travel narrative, D’Alep à Paris: Les pérégrinations d’un jeune syrien au temps de Louis XIVappeared in 2015, edited and translated by Paule Fahmé-Thiéry, Bernard Heyberger, and Jérôme Lentin. An English translation, by Elias Muhanna and Johannes Stephan, is tentatively scheduled for Fall 2020.

  • Dr. Debbie Reese and Dr. Jean Mendoza are the forces behind the invaluable American Indians in Children's Literature.

  • You can read a transcript of the film Reel Bad Arabs, based on the classic book by Jack Shaheen.

  • The Dzanc Books statement about Hesh Kestin's The Siege of Tel Aviv is available on the publisher's website.

  • Izzidien is also the editor behind Muslim Impossible, a new website that “reviews fictional Muslim and Arab characters in film, TV and literature that are unbelievable, poorly-researched or prejudiced.”

  • We disagreed about whether George Orwell’s “Marrakech” essay falls in that category. Here is a video and translation of part of the essay into Darija by a Moroccan YouTuber.

EpisodesThe Editors