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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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.”

The Bargain from the Bazaar by Haroon K Ullah, book review

An extraordinary story of a Pakistani family's brush with injustice that loses something in its telling

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt, book review: Portrait of over-shadowed female artist

Siri Hustvedt's latest novel is, at first, striking for one thing: many of its elements would once have been found in the early – and best - works of her novelist husband, Paul Auster.

A film adaptation of Wuthering Heights, starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon

Arifa Akbar: Jane Austen vs Emily Bronte - who wins this costume drama?

The Week in Books column

Film adaptation of 'The Book Thief'
Nicole Kidman as the lover in the adaptation of Philip Roth's 'The Human Stain'

Arifa Akbar: How can we put passion on the page?

Some Saturdays can be more colourful than others. Such as the one last weekend when I found myself in an upstairs room of a trendy Soho restaurant at 9.30am. A blonde woman in thigh boots sat opposite; other 50-somethings smiled demurely. Sizzle – a book whose cover featured an ice-cube melting on a woman’s bare, bronze torso – lay like a grenade on the table in front of us.

How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position by Tabish Khair; book review

Who wouldn’t be struck by a title like this, with its mix of fundamentalism and sniggering sexual reference? Surely, it can only lead to all-title-and-no-trousers disappointment. No, not at all. In fact, the title is nowhere near as irreverent, intelligent, and explosive as the slowly detonated bomb of a story inside.

Arifa Akbar: What imaginary book would you like to read? Tell Pelican! Week in Books column

I played a good dinner-party game this week. Well, it was over a long lunch but the conversation could easily have tided us over until dinner. Stefan McGrath, the MD of Penguin Press, started it.

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