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BULAQ | بولاق

Ursula Lindsey and M Lynx Qualey

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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. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
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Pull up a chair & join the conversation with Ramsey Tesdell, co-founder and CEO of podcasting powerhouse, Sowt. Available in your podcast apps May 7. If you subscribe now, you’ll also get a bonus episode on the state of the podcast landscape before everyone else! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices…
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Ramsey Tesdell shares his thoughts on some of the challenges and opportunities for the podcast landscape in the region. This episode is a continuation of my conversation with Ramsey, where he shared his entrepreneurial journey and some of Sowt’s growth plans, including their acquisitions of Finyal Media & Rising Giants Network. Learn more about you…
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How do you go from social network to podcast powerhouse? Pull up a chair and join the conversation with Ramsey Tesdell, co-founder and CEO of Sowt. Ramsey tells me about his entrepreneurial journey, why he’s an unintentional leader & lessons from their recent podcast acquisitions of Finyal Media in 2022 & Rising Giants Network last year. On a speci…
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Majalla 28 is a literary magazine out of Gaza co-producing an issue with ArabLit. We talk about the work by co-editors Mahmoud al-Shaer and Mohamed al-Zaqzouq and read excerpts from that issue. After that, we talk about a particular kind of Palestinian literature – by writers serving life sentences. Find out more about the Gaza issue at arablit.org…
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Ghassan Kanafani is best known for his famous novellas, but he was many things besides a talented writer: a prolific journalist, an insightful critic and editor, a heterodox Marxist, a spokesman for the militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He wrote and lived like he had no time to waste (which turned out to be true: he was assass…
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This episode features writing from and about Gaza, and explores the imperative to write, between hope and hopelessness, at a time when words both seem to count enormously and to not be enough. Show Notes This episode’s cover art is by Chema Peral @chema_peral Letter from Gaza by Ghassan Kanafani was written in 1956. Mahmoud Darwish’s Silence for th…
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We talk to Robin Moger about how he became a translator from Arabic and about what has changed in recent years in the field of Arabic literature and translation and what has stayed the same. Moger’s first book-length literary translation was Hamdi Abu Golayyel’s 2008 novel الفاعل, which became A Dog with No Tail. His most recent is a translation of…
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Said Khatibi’s detective novel نهاية الصحراء (End of the Sahara) is set in a remote desert city in Algeria in the Fall of 1988, when the country’s October Riots are about to break out place. The book is one of the winners of this year’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award. Khatibi explained how his writing is also a way of exploring larger historical crimes. S…
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Caitlin joins this podcast episode for another epic time. They dive into the aftermath of part 1's episode, discuss friendship, and go into some questions as well. Enjoy, think, and share with a friend. ⁠https://thesaltsa.wixsite.com/mysite --- Support this podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/davon-newbolt/support…
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Egyptian novelist Hamdi Abu Golayyel died last month at the age of 56. In this episode, we remember Hamdi and his one-of-a-kind literary career, telling the story of Egypt’s laborers, Bedouin, and migrants. Show Notes: Egyptian Novelist Hamdi Abu Golayyel Dies at 56: ‘There Was No One Like Him’ A Special Section at ArabLit on Abu Golayyel, Bedouin …
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Comics artist Rawand Issa joins us to talk about her book Inside the Giant Fish (trans. Amy Chiniara, Maamoul Press); her path from journalism to graphic art; artist groups and collectives across the region; the “new school of Arab comics,” and the challenges of making a living as a comics artist. We also talk about a few other Lebanese graphic nov…
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Davon invites one of his best friends Caitlin to talk about their relationship's evolution. From where it was to where it is today. They discuss their fondest memories and even enjoy some laughs at the differences in the recollection of their stories. Take a listen and have some fun with us going on this journey of the highly anticipated podcast ep…
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Translator Sawad Hussain joins us to talk about the challenges of making a living as a translator, the art of co-translation, her focus on Arabic literature from Africa and the Gulf, and the advice she gives to her translation mentees. We also highlight three of Sawad’s recent and forthcoming translations: Haji Jaber’s Black Foam, Bushra al-Maqtari…
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Twenty years after the disastrous and mendacious US invasion of Iraq, we take a look at writing from Iraq: memoirs, poems and blog posts. Shalash the Iraqi is a collection of such posts – a satirical, surreal, and affecting panorama in life in a Shia suburb of Baghdad in the early years of the occupation. Show Notes: An excerpt from Gaith Abdul-aha…
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We wandered through Arabic poetry and prose to talk about many different forms of literary love: regretful love, unreciprocated love, bad love, vengeful love, liberating love, married love. We read this poem by Núra al-Hawshán: “O eyes, pour me the clearest, freshest tears And when the fresh part’s over, pour me the dregs. O eyes, gaze at his harve…
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It’s literary prize season! When the Sawiris Cultural Awards were announced at the start of 2023, novelist Shady Lewis Botros turned his novel award down, launching a storm of criticism, defense, and discussion. Is it bad manners or good politics to turn down a prize? How do different prizes affect the literary landscape? How is the 2023 prize seas…
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Egyptian graphic novelist Deena Mohamed talks about her debut urban-fantasy trilogy Shubeik Lubeik (“Your Wish is My Command”). A product of playful self-translation, it’s coming to English as a single volume. It will be unbottled by Pantheon (US) and Granta (UK) on January 10, 2023. Show Notes: While the US edition keeps the title “Shubeik Lubeik,…
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The highly anticipated part 2 and conclusion to Reasons Why I Left. We continue right after the last resignation of 2019. With 2020 bringing an uncertain future Davon takes about the rollercoaster of that year and how he navigated through that time up to now. Enjoy, think, and share with a friend. https://thesaltsa.wixsite.com/mysite --- Support th…
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El-Rifae’s book Radius: A Story of Feminist Revolution tells the story of a movement that mobilized in Egypt to protect female protesters from mob sexual attacks in 2012 and 2013. Based on interviews with friends and comrades, the book explores memory, truth, gender, violence, political organizing, trauma, and possible futures. Show Notes You can o…
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With the release of season 2 of SOWTS and the new episode Welcome Back 2022, we dive into the anticipated conversation of why I left my church of 27 years. After years of being faithful and loyal to this organization, I had made the decision that it was time to step away and start on a new path. Although there were a lot of things that happened tha…
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In this sponsored episode, we talk to Sheikh Zayed Book Award winner Dr. Muhsin Al-Musawi about his life-long scholarship on the 1001 Nights. Show Notes: This podcast is produced in collaboration with the Sheikh Zayed Book Award. The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is one of the Arab world’s most prestigious literary prizes, showcasing the stimulating and …
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We’re back to talk about books we read over the summer and books we’re looking forward to this fall. Including poetry from Iman Mersal, Hadiya Hussein’s novel about looking for a lover disappeared in Saddam’s Iraq, and Mohamed Alnaas’ novel about the pressure to be a certain type of Libyan man. Show Notes: Iman Mersal’s The Threshold, trans. Robyn …
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In Aziz Muhammad’s The Critical Case of a Man Named K, an unnamed narrator is diagnosed with leukemia. His 40-week journal, shaped by his readings of Kafka, Thomas Mann, Ernest Hemingway and Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, sarcastically and movingly documents his alienation from his body, his surroundings and even, eventually, from books. Show Notes: An inter…
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An earthquake inspired Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine’s Agadir, published in French in 1967 and translated to English by Jake Syersack and Pierre Joris. Part playtext, part novel, part political essay, part poem, this insurrection of a book takes as its starting point the devastating 1960 earthquake that struck the Moroccan city. Show Notes: We also talked …
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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 The Thousand and One Nights translator Antoine Galland…
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An Interview with Maria Dadouch, who won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Children’s Literature this year. Dadouch’s book The Mystery of the Glass ball features two children becoming friends, fighting villains and protecting nature on a train ride in the near future. We talked about the need for more Arabic YA books; contemporary sci-fi; literary pr…
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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.” Show Notes Maya Abu Al-Hayyat’s You Can Be The Last Leaf, Trans. Fady Joudah, is out from Milkwee…
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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. Show Notes The first Thunderbird novel is available from University of Texas Press. The second is f…
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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 bulaq@sowt.com. T…
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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 …
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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 bulaq@sowt.com. The first…
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Paradise, by 2021 Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah, is the coming-of-age story of Yusuf, a Tanzanian boy sent into debt servitude when his father can't pay back an Arab merchant. Yusuf travels into the interior with “Uncle Aziz” and other vivid characters, to trade with the “savages” there. The story takes place on the cusp of World War I, set …
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Another of our short book-quiz episodes. Here we give the answer to a question about an Arab poet who emigrated to the US and translated some of the Beat poets. And we ask a question about Oman, where Jokha Alharthi's “Bitter Orange Tree,” discussed in our last episode, is set. Send your best guesses to bulaq@sowt.com. The first listener to respond…
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Jokha Alharthi burst to sudden international literary stardom in 2019, when her second novel, Sayyidat al-Qamr (tr. Marilyn Booth as Celestial Bodies), won the International Booker. The novel, touted as the “first by an Omani woman to be translated to English,” has since appeared in languages around the world. More novels by Omani women, including …
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All this season, we will be doing short book-quiz episodes with prizes donated by ten distinguished publishers. We give the answer to the question from Episode 82: “The Men Who Swallowed the Sun,” which features Bedouin migration from Egypt to Libya. In our last episode with guest Mona Kareem we talked about self-translation and “writing in Arabic …
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Mona Kareem's essay “Western Poets Kidnap Your Poems and Call Them Translations” lit up debates among translators and poets. In this episode Kareem talks about poetry, the power dynamics of translation, and the relationship of both to migration, exile, self-censorship, and publication. She also reads from her poetry, both in her own translation and…
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All this season, we will be doing short book-quiz episodes with prizes donated by ten distinguished publishers. We give the answer to the question from Episode 81, “Naguib Mahfouz's Banned Book” and a new challenge for listeners, regarding one of the books we discussed in Episode 82: “The Men Who Swallowed the Sun,” which features Bedouin migration…
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Two very different Egyptian novels – Hamdi Abu Golayyel's The Men Who Swallowed the Sun and Mohamed Kheir's Slipping – both circle around issues of migration in different ways. Abu Golayyel's Men (originally The Rise and Fall of the Saad Shin), translated by Humphrey Davies, is an anti-epic epic told in a rough, powerful storyteller's voice, follow…
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All this season, we will be doing short book-quiz episodes with prizes donated by ten distinguished publishers. In this bonus episode, we give the answer to the question from Episode 80, “Just Different: Moroccan writer Malika Moustadraf” and a new challenge for listeners, regarding the subject of Episode 81, Nabuig Mahfouz. Send your best guesses …
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What was so controversial about Children of the Alley, leading to it being banned for years in Egypt and to an attempt on the author's life? How and when was it published, criticized, understood? Mohamed Shoair delves into all of this in his literary investigation The Story of the Banned Book: Naguib Mahfouz's Children Of The Alley (trans. Humphrey…
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All this season, we will be doing short book-quiz episodes with prizes donated by ten distinguished publishers. In this bonus episode, we give the answer to the question from Episode 79, "Not Yet Defeated," and a new challenge for listeners around our Episode 80 focus, Moroccan writer Malika Moustadraf. After you've listened, send your best guesses…
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She was an outsider, an experimenter, a “rebel realist” and a feminist. You may not have read the short stories of Malika Moustadraf (1969-2006), since her work fell out of print after her untimely death. But tales of Moustadraf's fierce talent never stopped circulating, and now her work is back in print in Arabic and also set to appear in Alice Gu…
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Egypt's January 25 revolution was 11 years ago. Since then many of its young leaders have been persecuted and the history of what happened distorted or denied. We look at writing that remembers and resists. Alaa Abd El-Fattah's You Have Not Yet Been Defeated was translated by a collective, and is out from Fizcarraldo Editions in the UK. A US editio…
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The Book of Ramallah collects stories set in and around Palestine's administrative capital, which, Maya Abu Al-Hayat writes in her introduction, “represents this mirage, this glimmer of hope that isn't real, to many writers.” Show Notes: Book of Ramallah, edited by Maya Abu Al-Hayat, is available from Comma Press. You can read “Love in Ramallah” by…
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