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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The Independent around the web

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.

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

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Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas