In the latest episode of Bulaq, Lebanese author-translator Lina Mounzer reads from her essay “Waste Away: Notes on Beirut’s Broken Sewage System.” We discuss the current situation in Lebanon and literature that looks at the worlds beneath our feet:
You can listen now on any major podcast app: “Talking Shit.”
Lina Mounzer’s “Waste Away” appears in The Baffler; a slightly modified version is set to be published next week in the anthology Tales of Two Planets, ed. John Freeman.
Saleem Haddad’s “Song of the Birds,” in the anthology Palestine + 100, explores the problems of sewage at Palestinian shores.
Rabee Jaber’s Mehlis Report, translated to English by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, tells the tale of two cities: Beirut above and Beirut below.
Mounzer’s “Translating Trash” appeared last year in The Paris Review. Also, her “The Great Ponzi Scheme” predicted a Lebanese financial disaster in the New York Times last December.
Mounzer wasn’t alone. This essay from 2017 — “Abracadabra…broke” — also saw a looming economic crisis.
Ursula wrote about Lebanese protests last November in the NYR Daily: The Lebanese Street Asks: ‘Which Is Stronger, Sect or Hunger?’
Favorite Lebanese literary magazines Samandal and Rusted Radishes continue to publish, although RR is re-imagining their budget and fundraising possibilities. Keep an eye out for their Patreon.
*Editor’s Note: Ursula incorrectly refers to a long-serving Lebanese prime minister. She meant Speaker of Parliament. Nabih Berri has held that position for nearly three decades.