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.
04 March 2015 05:24 PM
When Franz Kafka’s travelling salesman wakes up late one morning transformed into an insect, his family (and boss) banging at the door for him to attend to his duties at the office, we understand Gregor Samsa’s “malaise” to be socially induced, a tyrannical force insisting on nine-to-five normality that has turned him into something smaller, more scuttling, than he is. The Metamorphosis’s metaphor reflects capitalism’s dehumanising effects on the soul. Existential angst is also what we call it, though it could just as well be – as Matt Haig argues in his excellent new book – a sign that Gregor is very, very depressed. So depressed he can’t get out of bed, face his family, or feel like a functioning human being.
26 February 2015 03:00 PM
The Independent Bath Literature Festival 2015: Frieda Hughes, Kate Tempest and Kazuo Ishiguro lead star-studded lineup
13 February 2015 03:59 PM
It’s two decades since the Bath Literature Festival was launched, and this year’s line-up is the best yet
12 February 2015 12:58 PM
So! Some literary food for thought for 14 February: if you’re a freshly courting couple, it won’t last. If you’ve been married a while, he’s having an affair with his laptop. And if you’ve got it all – husband, kids, house, garden, hamster – it’s doomed to unravel through marital infidelity, abducted kids, dad stepping on the hamster and then deep-freezing it, mum having a fantasy affair with the man installing the expensive kitchen. Affairs aplenty. Happy Valentine’s Day!
09 February 2015 05:42 PM
Roddy Doyle's new book 'Dead Man Talking', costs just £1. Aimed at people with poor literacy, it is inspired by a death in his own family, the Booker winner tells Arifa Akbar
28 January 2015 07:04 PM
A few years ago, a friend organised a conference for British-Asian writers to talk about why they wrote and whether “British-Asian writing” as a genre was felt to be a boon or burden. The first discussion brought thundering divisions when half the room insisted that ethnicity had nothing to do with it, while the other half argued that cultural identity couldn’t be divorced from creativity.
22 January 2015 03:00 PM
In 1997, when Granta published its anthology India! The Golden Jubilee, the world was at a very different place. The Satanic Verses had "happened" just under a decade ago; Arundhati Roy won the Booker prize a few months after her contribution to Granta; the work of VS Naipaul, Vikram Seth and Anita Desai had helped to formulate a new genre of subcontinental writing in the English language that had proved to be so critically successful in the West. And there they all were, contributing to Granta.
22 January 2015 12:12 PM
Poor Daisy Goodwin, who might or might not have lost her half-written novel in a house fire this week. But at least she’s in good company, despite her appalling loss. She figures in the pantheon of writers whose creative juices have flowed for nought.
15 January 2015 04:00 PM
14 January 2015 05:43 PM
Week in Books
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 GamerGate: developer Tim Schafer provokes rage with joke about online gaming activists at industry awards