The Week in Books: Femen exposed, the £30,000 'one-star' Jeff Bezos book and a digital map for bookstores

Would any one feminist text make the same waves today as Germaine Greer's or Betty Friedan's?

Femen – the book – is due to hit the shelves next year. Whether it will retain the in-your-face nudity of its front cover in the French original (published in March this year) is as yet unknown.

What is certain is that Polity press, its English language publisher, is updating the story of the four female founders to answer the question that has been asked ever since the film, Ukraine Is Not a Brothel, screened at the Venice Film Festival this autumn. It made the claim that the real brains behind the often topless protest group was a feisty man, and not a feisty often topless woman. The book, a history of the movement, a manifesto and an autobiography in one, is due out in May 2014 and I’m told that Polity has approached Femen for an update over the controversy of their “male leader”, Victor Svyatskiy, who was quoted in the film as saying “These girls are weak...They don’t even have the desire to be strong. Instead, they show submissiveness, spinelessness, lack of punctuality, and many other factors which prevent them from becoming political activists. These are qualities which it was essential to teach them.”

Any rejoinder or clarification by its key members – Inna, Sasha, Oksana and Anna – or the gang of four as they refer to themselves in the first chapter of the book, will be fascinating to read.  All we know for now is that there will be a new afterword by Galia Ackerman, the journalist who worked with Femen on the book, in which she will address the implications made in the film. In some ways, it would be disappointing for the debate about the movement to be sabotaged by a far grubbier discussion on whether the movement was founded by the women, or the man.

The question of how a book can galvanise activism is more interesting to consider, given the seemingly symbiotic relationships that texts have had with feminist activism in the past. The 1970s Second Wave movement seemed to revolve around the symbolism of books as “manifestos”, first and foremost, whether it was Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique or Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch. To what degree these texts were arguing for the same things as the women on the streets, and at Greenham Common, is up for debate. Greer’s book became inextricably linked with that decade’s activism but studying it now, it reads more like bookish literary criticism than a manifesto for bra-burning. Similiarly, Simone de Beauvoir’s older text, which was no less appropriated by the Second Wavers, The Second Sex, might have the perfect campaign title but was heavy on theory and philosophy, and seemed detached from any grassroots call to action, partly because it had been written two decades earlier.

Did the books inspire the activists or were the books co-opted by them for their cause? They certainly gained a purchase and became rallying badges and signs of allegiences. Perhaps all political movements need the symbolism of a book, laying out a new philosophy to use as a manifestor, and to galvanise the activism. Can we see the same text-led movement in today’s world? Would any one text make the same waves as Greer’s book or Friedan’s? Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a  Woman certainly made it easier for younger women to declare themselves feminists on their Twitter handles and blogs.

Maybe Femen’s militant, streaker-style protests are not to everyone’s taste, with topless acts of derring-do that seem to blend the romantic heroism of James Bond with the sexual titillation of the Bond girl, but you never know, their manifesto, in book form, may help to formulate the Third Waves, with or without the help of their  ‘man’ friend.

‘One-star’ book on Jeff Bezos  gets a £30,000 prize

MacKenzie Bezos, the wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and now infamous writer of the “one- star” review that was posted on Amazon of her husband’s unauthorised biography, might have been feeling yet more downcast this week when the book in question – The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone – won the £30,000 prize at the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs’s Business Book of the Year Awards. MacKenzie Bezos began her review with the words ‘I wanted to like it’,  before settling into a string of objections, including the fact that she thought the book “passes off speculation about his (Jeff Bezos’s) thoughts and intentions as fact.” The (probably more impartial) jury, meanwhile, called it a “compelling” read.

Digital map for bookstores on and off the high street

Digital media is often drawn as the enemy of the physical book but in some instances, it leads us away from online multiplexes such as Amazon, and into curious old independent stores that we would never otherwise have known existed. A case in point is a new app, available next month from the London Bookshop Map, that leads the way to the nearest independent bookshop, using GPS technology, down an alleyway or above a sex-shop (yes, there really is a such a specialist store, in Soho).

It sounds like a Google Maps for Londoners who love buying books off the beaten track.  It is being launched on 2 December for free, enabling users to search for particular specialisms including antiquarian, magic, zines and gay fiction.

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Shenaz Treasurywala
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all