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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Blackout, Channel 4

TV review: Blackout, Channel 4 - A bleak meditation on a modern disaster that doesn't quite hit the spot

"Please don't lose the plot, Britain." An illuminated face spoke from out of the darkness in Blackout, a dystopian drama told in faux-documentary style that imagined what would happen if the nation suffered a massive power failure following a suspected cyber-attack on the national grid. But, of course, Britain was going to lose the plot, because people always end up doing so in a drama of this kind. José Saramago's Blindness gave us the most masterful example of how quickly urban society melts into chaos, desperation and savage self-survival when one crucial civilising thing is taken away for an indefinite amount of time.

The Lives of the Muses By Francine Prose. Union Books, £10.99

Muses have never had it easy. Stuck between the human and the transcedent for the (usually) male artists they inspire, and the object of intense envy, they cannot be too domestic nor put their own artistic ambitions first (Yoko Ono struggled with this while with John Lennon).

Robert Peston Goes Shopping

TV review - Robert Peston Goes Shopping, BBC2

Jamie's Money Saving Meals, Channel 4

The Weekend’s Viewing: Simon Schama’s story was as much an investigation into identity as it was the beginning of a difficult history

The Story of the Jews, Sun, BBC2 // Rebuilding the World Trade Center, Sun, Channel 4

Book review: Grimm Tales for Young and Old, By Philip Pullman

The Kinder- und Hausmärchen have been, Pullman reminds us, a staple for Western readers for the past two centuries.

Lunar love: Mirando Otto and Gloria Pires in 'Reaching for the Moon'

The firebrand film-makers out to provoke and engage

Gramado's 41st Film Festival was host to more controversy than Brazil has seen on screen for years. Arifa Akbar reports

Last night's viewing - My Hero: Ben Miller on Tony Hancock BBC1

It was the smaller corners of this tribute to a comic genius that made My Hero: Ben Miller on Tony Hancock worth watching. We already knew the larger story, of Hancock's dry, doleful wit, of his radio and TV success, his thwarted ambition to be a serious actor and, later, film failures, and of his drinking and untimely death from an overdose at the age of 44. What was more interesting, beyond Miller's gushing praise of the comedian, were the small, surprising things that he discovered as he spoke to those who had worked with Hancock.

Dr George McGavin among the swarms of Red Crabs on Christmas Island.

TV review - Ultimate Swarms (BBC1) is bee good, shame about the soundtrack

"Swarms are extremely powerful," the zoologist George McGavin told us in Ultimate Swarms. They can be deadly too, he continued: "By joining together, even the simplest creatures can achieve the impossible." Yeah, we know that, George, we've seen Hitchcock's The Birds, and some of us still remember that naff crop of films about insect invasion that were the equivalent of zombie movies in the late 1970s – swarms of bees, ants and spiders working with a cunning collective intelligence to overwhelm mankind.

The Weekend’s Viewing: British detective dramas come and go, but few are as creepily compelling as What Remains

What Remains, Sun, BBC1/ America’s Stoned Kids, Sat, BBC2

Book review: The Orchard of Lost Souls, By Nadifa Mohamed

From Somaliland's bitter past blooms a moving and mature novel of conflict and survival

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Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices