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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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.

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.

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Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape