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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Book review: Ramayana: A Retelling, By Daljit Nagra

For all the slang and swagger, this bold new version of the Hindu epic keeps its moral core intact

Billy Zane created artworks using locally sourced materials while filming Titanic

Arts observations: Billy Zane turns to action painting

And in defence of 'virtuous' women

Book review: Granta 125: After the War, Edited by John Freeman

This collection does not deal with fresh scars but the unfading memories that, decades later, are still seared into a landscape, and a soul.

The great Bridget Jones/David Jason mash-up

Leave it out, Rodney! Actually, next time why not leave it in?

Book review: How Music Works, By David Byrne

"Everything started with sound", Byrne reminds us. "In the beginning was the Word."

Digging deep: 'The Wasp Factory' at the Linbury Studio

The Wasp Factory: An opera with murder in its heart and a sting in its tale

Iain Banks' cult novel is the unlikely source for a new show at Covent Garden

Nick MacKinnon at the Forward Prizes for Poetry Awards in London’s Southbank Centre

Sexually charged poem about learning metric wins Forward Prize

Former maths teacher’s recollection of an unorthodox lesson was a ‘delight’ for judges

Broken art: curator Susan Harrison with smashed sculptures from Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire

A history of violence that's set to make a smash hit

As the Tate opens a show of vandalised art, Arifa Akbar visits the secret lock-up that is home to the nation's damaged masterpieces

Book review: My First Wife, By Jakob Wassermann

Herzog, a young writer, is struggling to fend off poverty when Ganna Mevis, the youngest of six daughters in a well-heeled family, begins her pursuit of him, groupie-like and ardent.

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Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little