BULAQ is a book-centric podcast co-hosted by Ursula Lindsey (in Amman, Jordan) and M Lynx Qualey (in Rabat, Morocco). It focuses on Arabic literature in translation and is named after the first printing press established in Egypt in 1820. Produced by Sowt.
Poems from Palestine
We read from the work of Palestinian poets Maya Abu Al Hayyat, Fady Joudah, Asmaa 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.”
Maya Abu Al-Hayyat’s You Can Be The Last Leaf, Trans. Fady Joudah, is out from Milkweed Editions
Najwan Darwish’s Collection Exhausted On the Cross, Trans. Kareem James Abu-Zeid, is out from New York Review Books.
Fady Joudah curated The Baffler’s series of lyric dispatches from Palestine, from which Marcia read Asmaa Azaizeh’s Reflection.
We read Fady Joudah’s poem Dehiscence, from his new collection Tethered to Stars.
And if you are interested in hearing much more Arabic poetry, check out the podcast Maqsouda, another Sowt production.
87+ Bonus: Book Quiz
Another of our short book-quiz episodes. Send your best guesses to email@example.com. The first listener to respond with the right answer will get a book in the mail!
‘Kids Take Over!’: On Sonia Nimr’s Thunderbird
Guest hosts Rafael (age 11) and Milo (almost 10) take over this episode of Bulaq to talk about the evil aunts, time-traveling djinn, and scary checkpoints in the first book of Palestinian novelist Sonia Nimr’s fast-paced fantasy trilogy: Thunderbird.
The first Thunderbird novel is available from University of Texas Press. The second is forthcoming this fall.
Educators interested in joining a launch event on Zoom with author and translator can sign up at the University of Texas website. Participants will get a free copy of the book!
Red Stars, by Davide Morosinottto, is available in Denise Muir’s translation. You can find more about literature for young readers in translation at worldkidlit.wordpress.com.
Rafael’s next editing project is Sawad Hussain’s translation of Djamila Morani’s The Djinn’s Apple, forthcoming from Neem Tree.
86+ Bonus: Book Quiz
Another of our short book-quiz episodes. One of our astute listeners has given the answer to last week’s question: What Koranic and Biblical story is a reference for Abdulrazak Gurnah’s “Paradise”? The answer to this week’s question is within the Moroccan novel “Hot Maroc” — and our last episode about it.
Send your best guesses to firstname.lastname@example.org. The first listener to respond with the right answer will get a book in the mail!
‘Hot Maroc’: An Internet Troll Novel
Translator Alexander E. Elinson joins us to discuss Yassin Adnan’s Hot Maroc, a sprawling satire of contemporary Morocco. The novel, set in Marrakesh and online, follows the story of Rahhal Laouina, aka “The Squirrel,” who finds his voice as an anonymous internet troll – and then has it co-opted by the country’s security apparatus. While it paints a bleak picture of the possibilities of political dialogue, journalism, and self-expression, the novel itself is testament to literature’s ability to chart new imaginative territory.
Hot Maroc is available from Syracuse University Press in Alex Elinson’s translation
You can read an excerpt of the novel at Asymptote.
Aida Alami contextualizes the novel at Middle East Eye.
Adnan talks about the inspiration for the novel in an interview with the International Prize for Arabic Fiction
85+ Bonuz: Book Quiz
Another of our short book-quiz episodes. Here we give the answer to a question about an island that was part of a Sultanate spanning Oman and East Africa, and that features in our last two episodes. And we ask about a Koranic and Biblical story that is a reference for Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Paradise. Send your best guesses to email@example.com. The first listener to respond with the right answer will get a book in the mail!
Great Literature Podcast!
This show really is for anyone interested in literature. The 'Book Club' series is off to a great start!
Indispensable for anyone interested in the modern Arab world or in world literature. The hosts are up to the task of contextualising the works and authors. I’m always so happy to find a new episode. Small note on the May 7, 2020 episode: the person referred to as having written the script for the film Uridu Hallan , Hosn Shah, is a woman. Not Hasan.
What a gem
I'm always pleased with myself when I come across little unknown gems like this podcast. What a delight to listen to two smart women talk about books on a subject for which I've always had an interest yet know so little. Thank you, Bulaq, for bringing something new to the english-speaking book podcast world!