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.

a.akbar@independent.co.uk

twitter.com/Arifa_Akbar

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee