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.

i Newspaper
 
TheIPaper
The Independent around the web
Helen Macdonald had been a falconer for many years

A new breed of memoir that soars above the competition; Week in Books

It’s been a good week for memoirs (though maybe not for Lena Dunham’s). And for women falconers, though Helen Macdonald is not the first woman to have broached the subject of her Samuel Johnson Prize-winning memoir, H is for Hawk.

Fighting prejudice: author Zadie Smith

How to achieve immortality by buying '15-paragraphs of fame'; Week in Books column

Will you be bidding at the latest “immortality” auction? The one in which the highest bidder will have bought their way into Margaret Atwood’s retelling of The Tempest perhaps, or Tracy Chevalier’s next novel in which she has an open spot for a landlady. Or the works of Hanif Kureishi, Sebastian Faulks, Pat Barker, Alan Hollinghurst, Zadie Smith, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan, and more. Not for the first time – though this one surely has the highest “star” voltage – novelists will auction character names to appear in their fictions. 

The Search Warrant by Patrick Modiano; paperback book review

This slim yet powerful inquiry into the life of a French 15-year-old, who “runs away” from her convent school in 1941, was first published in France in 1997.

Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays

A bucket list? I’d rather quote poetry by heart before I die; Week in Books column

Reading yet another article about bucket lists, I was delighted to find that Judi Dench didn’t have one. What she did have, though, was a daily habit of learning a poem or new word by heart to keep her mind active.

The Unknown Soldier

Dear Unknown Soldier, imagine you could read my letter now... Week in Books column

No bodies were returned to Britain after the end of the First World War. That some corner of a foreign field became forever England was down to the sad fact that there were too many fallen to bring back, and too many who couldn’t have been claimed because they couldn’t be identified. So on 7 November 1920, an unidentified body dug up from France was buried under marble at Westminster Abbey. This man would become the “unknown soldier”. In the first week of his arrival, 1.3 million came to pay their respects. It was an extraordinary turnout, and it signalled how much emotional symbolism lay within his anonymity.

Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Richard Flanagan's Man Booker win reminds us the prize is open to the Commonwealth

The first Man Booker to allow American nominees was won by an Australian

Flanagan says: 'I felt I carried something within me as a consequence of growing up as a child of the death railway'

Man Booker Prize winner Richard Flanagan: 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North was a novel I never wanted to write'

Richard Flanagan won the Man Booker Prize for a tale inspired by his father's experiences in a Japanese PoW camp

Sea, sun and yoga in remote Turkey

Stretch and relax with a yoga guru in Fethiye

This wood and glass pillow book forms part of the Institute of Sexology exhibition at the Wellcome Trust

Exposing an authoritarian state with explicit sex in fiction: Week in Books column

In 2007, the Chinese novelist Chen Xiwo wrote a story collection based on the deadly sins, with each of the seven dramatised explicitly and without concession to state censors. Perhaps unsurprisingly, The Book of Sins was banned by the Chinese government. One story was seen as particularly degenerate: “I Love My Mum”, in which a disabled teenager is arrested for murdering his mother and admits to having had sex before – and after – whipping her to death.

Struggles of creation: Elif Shafak

How to free the written word: protest, and freedom in literature: Week in Books column

Tonight at around sunset, a book burning will kick-start the London Literature Festival’s meditation on a dystopic, post-literate future where reading is an act of rebellion. Or at least, an imaginary book burning with a conceptual pyre in the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room, around which a dramatised reading of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 will take place. The audience are invited to bring their favourite books to this Brave New Bookless World, where even Fifty Shades of Grey is samizdat.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?