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.

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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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine