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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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.

A new report has highlighted the dire state bookshops are in

Pleasure of childhood reading: Arifa Akbar, books column

Reading aloud stops dead for a lot of children at a certain age. I had almost forgotten about the thrill of it until someone asked me about my early reading experience, a few days ago. Well, I went to school, I read, I was read to, and I came home again, I thought at first. Then again, it could have been very different when you consider that I was one of the “dreaded” immigrant children who showed up in class with no word of English at five.

Andrew Motion would send 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens

Books for prisoners: Novelists, poets and dramatists reveal the literature they would send to inmates (if they still could)

Leading writers send protest postcards to Justice Secretary as part of a campaign against government restrictions on prisoners receiving books

Veiled threat: a topless activist from Femen under attack in front of the Great Mosque of Paris last year

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates, Femen By Femen with Galia Ackerman; trans Andrew Brown, book reviews

A generation of angry young women are mobilising street protests and online activism: but are they feminists?

Another 'well-known' author publishes an anonymous novel - but who could it be this time around?

It’s been quite a year for pseudonymous writers whose real identities are open secrets. John Banville brought out his latest Philip Marlowe mystery novel under the pen-name, Benjamin Black, last month. Dan Kavanagh’s detective novels are to be re-published and nowhere is Julian Barnes mentioned, such is the extent of the in-joke. J K Rowling will bring out her second Robert Galbraith book this June.

Samuel Beckett's story teaches young writers to go their own way! Week in Books by Arifa Akbar

So Samuel Beckett’s unpublished short story will finally see the light of day, 80 years after Charles Prentice, his editor at Chatto & Windus, asked him to write “Echo’s Bones”, in order to bulk out his 1934 debut collection. Prentice also asked Beckett to change the title from Draff to More Pricks Than Kicks in a bid to make it more appealing to readers. Then he rejected “Echo’s Bones” as a “nightmare” that would turn readers off and “depress the sales”.

Emma Donoghue: 'Fiction informed by grittiness of fact'

Arifa Akbar: Books column

A personal first this week. I found myself in partial agreement with Martin Amis. While his views on class (versus money) may have sparked the usual hullabaloo of opinion and counter-opinion, it was his aside on the sexual fantasy of “ravishment” in literature that I found myself pondering, and not roundly dismissing, to my surprise. In a Radio Times interview, he said that, in the time of Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa, “the only way a heroine can have sex is by being drugged and that ties in with fantasies, female fantasies of being ravished.”

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