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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Haruki Murakami is nothing like JK Rowling. He may sell like Tom Clancy, yet he remains a cult

Should we judge a book by its author? Week in Books column

It’s hard to judge a book without regard to who has written it. Perhaps we’re not supposed to. I was reminded of this twice this week, first when a colleague screwed up her face at the water-cooler criticisms of Martin Amis’s holocaust novel, The Zone of Interest and asked, “Are we being especially hard because we have such high expectations?”

How To Be Both by Ali Smith, book review

A Man Booker longlisted novelist who continues to surprise and innovate
Take a peek at the Bayeux Tapestry (tapisseriebayeux.fr), marking the Norman conquest of England

What happened to America's invasion of Man Booker? Arifa Akbar, Week in Books

So the American’s aren’t coming, despite the column inches of worry that they would descend like a Viking horde and commandeer our prize after Man Booker opened its doors to international writers (beyond its Commonwealth scope). Well, four are coming, I suppose: Siri Hustvedt, Karen Joy Fowler, Joshua Ferris, Richard Powers. Or four and a half  if you count Joseph O’Neill (who is Irish/American).

Secrets and marketing tricks: Anthony Horowitz, at the exclusive launch of his novel's proof

What's the meaning of 'chick-noir'? Week in Books

Next week, a literary salon will discuss the rise of the domestic thriller. Lucie Whitehouse, the novelist and one of three speakers at Bloomsbury’s event, has already called the genre by its other – not altogether uncontentious – name. “I’d define ‘chick noir’ as psychological thrillers that explore the fears and anxieties experienced by many women. They deal in the dark side of relationships, intimate danger, the idea that you can never really know your husband or partner...”

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.

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Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London