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 is currently a judge of the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014, and the Independent Scholastic New Children's Prize 2014.

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The Independent around the web

Having a press of one's own: Virginia Woolf's publishing preoccupations were our own

There are two rooms in the National Portrait Gallery’s Virginia Woolf exhibition which show, under glass, the beautifully designed covers of the books that Woolf published after she set up her own press with her husband, Leonard Woolf.

Undercurrents: Koch's is a dark tale of a summer holiday, gone wrong

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch; trans. Sam Garrett, book review

Herman Koch's second book to be translated from his native Dutch has all the distinctive features of his first, the international bestseller, The Dinner. There is a narrator who whispers warped thoughts into your ear. There is the black humour and dangerous fantasy that might erupt into the real world at any moment. And there is the hissing satire that mocks bourgeois values and threatens a sudden, alarming loss of etiquette.

Kevin Brooks’s 'The Bunker Diary'

How Grimm should teen fiction get?

It was sad to hear how long it had taken young adult (YA) fiction author Kevin Brooks to publish The Bunker Diary, as he collected the Carnegie Medal for it. Or why it had taken so long, I should say. Ten years, he revealed, because no publisher would touch a YA book whose themes – kidnapping, illness, torture and drug addiction – didn’t offer enough “hope”.

Arifa Akbar: Books help inmates to turn the page

The Week in Books
Wyld: 'a prose style worthy of our very best writers'

Uncovering talent: the prize that rewards not just one, but eight, British novelists: Arifa Akbar, Week in Books

What do we make of a literary prize that picks eight winners? And one that rewards those not setting the world alight with their debuts nor those whom Alan Yentob might dedicate an Imagine series to, but writers who are on their second, third, maybe even 10th novel, quietly getting on with the next one?

Sebastian Faulks: 'I've hated all this Scando-porn serial killer stuff'

Faulks' War: it's still an ongoing battle; Arifa Akbar, Week in Books

When Sebastian Faulks first published Birdsong, it was met with a muted reception. The year was 1993 and it was not exactly fashionable to be writing about the things that the novel describes so viscerally: the battle of the Somme, the terror of the trenches, the claustrophobic terror of the tunnels beneath those trenches, and the assault on the souls and spirits of the men who saw wave after wave of slaughter on the battlefields of the Great War.

A bookshop is more than its discounts; Arifa Akbar, week in books

If buildings had souls or bore the imprint of everyone who had ever inhabited them, the new home for Foyles would be bursting with spectral rebels, creatives and a few anarchists, too.

Arifa Akbar: Never mind Michael Gove, I'd ban Of Mice and Men and other over-used set texts

The Americans can't know if they're coming or going in our Brave New Ukip-enhanced World. First that gatekeeper of Commonwealth literary tradition, the Man Booker prize, opens its borders to the Americans, to a hail of doomy predictions on how British fiction will be over-run by any number of gum-chewing Yankie doodle dandies with a Creative Writing MFA in their back pockets.

Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman in 'Hemingway & Gellhorn'

Do women matter in Hemingway's world? Arifa Akbar, week in books

What kind of a writer would Hemingway be if he were living today?

Definitely a hard-drinking one, carousing all hours when he wasn’t dodging bullets in Syria or Iraq. He’d doubtless feature on Granta’s list of 20 best American writers under 40 – he was a mega star by 30. And he’d probably still be an inveterate womaniser.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice