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
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
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.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence