Bulaq 45: The Shape of Cairo

This episode is built around the architecture of twentieth century Cairo, and discuss the Egyptian capital’s past, present and future, and the way writers have shaped our view of it: 

The view for listener Tim Gregory 

The centering point of the episode is Mohamed Elshahed’s architectural survey Cairo Since 1900: An Architectural Guide, newly released from AUC Press, with a foreword by Mercedes Volait:

Elshahed’s longtime blog, Cairobserver, is a must-read for anyone interested in the built world.

Another recent book that maps Cairo is Humphrey Davies and Lesley Lababidi’s A Field Guide to the Street Names of Central Cairo; N.A. Mansour recently wrote about both A Field Guide and Cairo Since 1900 in “Two New Books Preserving Cairo’s Urban Landscape.”

Tawfiq al-Hakim’s The Prison of Life: An Autobiographical Essay, in which he describes his father’s time as an amateur architect, was translated by Pierre Cachia. Other Egyptian literary works that feature architects include Reem Bassiouney’s novel Mortal Designs, translated by Melanie Magidow, and Naguib Mahfouz’s play The Legacy.

Also discussed in this episode are Hamdi Abu Golayyel’s novels Thieves in Retirement (trans. Marilyn Booth) and A Dog With No Tail (trans. Robin Moger).


In other podcast news, Sowt Podcasts recently announced their new project, the Zamakan (زمكان) Podcast Network, which is to be a curated network of independent podcasts from the MENA region that will also provide revenue opportunities for producers.” The Sowt-run project has received funding from the Google News Initiative. Sowt was one of 21 organizations in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa region that received funding from the project.