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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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So Samuel Beckett’s unpublished short story will finally see the light of day, 80 years after Charles Prentice, his editor at Chatto & Windus, asked him to write “Echo’s Bones”, in order to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.”

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.

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Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee