Cover Stories: Joya's story; shock as Friedman goes; The Group reconvenes

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The Independent Culture

The memoirs of Malalai Joya, who was recently awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, have been bought by Judith Kendra, the much-respected publisher of Random House imprint Rider. The 30-year-old politician and activist – "the bravest in woman in Afghanistan" (below) – was recently suspended from the Afghan Parliament after she likened it to "a stable or a zoo... full of animals". Raising My Voice, which will also be published in the US, Canada, Australia and across continental Europe, will recount Joya's story as well as chronicling the situation in Afghanistan, through war, occupation and terrorism and what she sees as the current mockery of democracy.

New York and London publishing has been shocked by the departure of Jane Friedman from her post as President and Chief Executive of HarperCollins worldwide. Only a few days before, she'd been presiding over a lavish party on the Fox lot at BookExpo in Los Angeles, telling guests how much she was enjoying the job. A larger-than-life personality, she travelled the world with an entourage and her elegant octogenarian mother. Whatever her own eccentricities, she was credited with rebuilding the publisher. Her successor is Brian Murray, who was a consultant when Friedman arrived and whose talent she spotted.

Good news from Virago: Mary McCarthy's most celebrated novel, The Group, which caused something of a scandal when it was first published in 1963 and so became essential reading for a generation, is to be republished in the UK, where it has long been unavailable. Focusing on a group of New York friends, its open discussion of sex and contraception, careers and motherhood was unprecedented and it can now be seen as the precursor of the women's novel - without The Group there would certainly be no Sex and the City.