Arifa Akbar

Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books 2013, and the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014, and is currently judging the Aesthetica Magazine new writing prize.

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Best books of 2014: These Christmas reads are so good you won't want to give them away

From the best debut fiction to literary and celebrity memoirs, our reviewers select their pick of this year's crop...

Unfinished business: there's more to a good book than its ending

Week in Books column: Arifa Akbar

Antipodean triumph: Soldiers liberated from a Japanese prison camp

Books of the year 2014: The best fiction

Man Booker prize winner Richard Flanagan led the vanguard in a triumphant year for Antipodean fiction

A Theft: My Con Man by Hanif Kureishi, book review: Morality tale suffers for not being fiction

Hanif Kureishi was cheated out of £120,000 of life savings in 2012 by a partner at an accountancy firm. The alleged investment fraud was announced in news reports last year to add to those stories of famous folk – the John Malkoviches and other Ponzi Scheme victims – duped out of what they have.

Cults and loners: Murakami never stops warning his fans against the sham of charisma and the peril of conformity
Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis in 'Thelma and Louise'

It's not just men who can do firm fictive friendships - but women might do them differently: week in books column

Friendship was essential to Aristotle’s well-lived life, much more so than the flibbertigibbet passions of romantic love, while Oscar Wilde’s model of a friend was a trustworthy contrarian, bold enough to “stab you in the front”.

Female University Student Reading a Book in a Library

Make a noise about libraries but, please, keep quiet afterwards: Week in books

Libraries shouldn’t have to become multi-platform, nor should they have to jump through hoops to show us their worth

Indian stunner: the Taj Mahal

Farzana: The Woman who Saved an Empire by Julia Keay; book review

Farzana began life as an impoverished, powerless girl in Mughal-era India, where social hierarchies were prescribed and inescapable. Penniless and orphaned by teen age, she earned her keep by servicing the priapic needs of the East India Company in the dance halls of Delhi. So how, by the end of her life, had she become not only the leader of a formidable army but a revered adventurer who sat on an immense personal fortune in one the most illustrious estates of 18th-century India?

Helen Macdonald had been a falconer for many years

A new breed of memoir that soars above the competition; Week in Books

It’s been a good week for memoirs (though maybe not for Lena Dunham’s). And for women falconers, though Helen Macdonald is not the first woman to have broached the subject of her Samuel Johnson Prize-winning memoir, H is for Hawk.

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Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones