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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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.

Book review: The Big Screen, By David Thomson

This encyclopedic brick of a book takes us from the silent cinema era and William de Mille to the early Hollywood studio system, Renoir, the money side of film, colour musicals and a comprehensive brief on world cinema.

Book review: A Natural History of Ghosts, By Roger Clarke

Beginning with his own uncomfortable early encounter with an eerie corner of his old family house, Clarke's compelling account of apparitions, phantoms and bumps in the night through the centuries takes us from the Medieval Age through to the current day, and from the science of ghost hunting to the scandals around seances.

Book review: Salvador Allende: Revolutionary Democrat, By Victor Figueroa Clark

This eloquent, pithy political biography of the doomed Chilean president ousted by General Pinochet's coup of 1973 (but only at the point of death – he took his own life over surrendering) recounts his life, his unique, benevolent brand of Marxism and his enduring political legacy.

Marianne Faithfull on Who Do You Think You Are?

Last night's viewing: Marianne Faithfull unearths Nazi-era intrigue in Who Do You Think You Are?

OK, so Marianne Faithfull was once a convent girl who became a 1960s wild child, had a baby with an art dealer and then a four-year relationship with Mick Jagger before becoming a homeless heroin addict and roaming the streets of London like a latter-day Ophelia. This generous quota of melodrama and heartbreak in early life all sounded a bit tame, though, compared to what her mother and maternal grandparents went through during the Second World War.

The Fried Chicken Shop

TV review - The Fried Chicken Shop (Channel 4) served up something surprisingly tender

The Fried Chicken Shop should really have been the worst kind of junk-food TV. Consider the concept on paper: a fly-on-the-wall camera crew pitch up for three weeks at a south London fried chicken takeaway to film the finger-lickin' goings-on of its (more often than not) loud, drunken patrons. Imagine the poetic symmetry if it were aired late on a Friday: drunk people eating a takeaway on their sofas after a night out, watching drunk people eating a takeaway in a takeaway shop after a night out.

Liz Fletcher (Denise Gough) in What Remains

TV review: Gino’s Italian Escape (Fri, BBC1) and What Remains (Sun, BBC1)

Exploring Italy's food culture with lashings of cheeky chappy charm

I admit it. I bought a book online from Amazon – but I didn’t enjoy it

The irony is that an order at the local bookshop might have been quicker

Book review: Armchair Nation, By Joe Moran

Our TV times, from Kingsley Amis's heaven to Orwell's hell

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Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album