Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty review – if inequality is illegitimate, why not reduce it?

Book of the day Economics Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty review – if inequality is illegitimate, why not reduce it? The celebrated French economist is back with an ambitious and optimistic work of social science, which argues that inequality always relies on ideology Thomas…

‘The most boring part’: why the killer didn’t matter to Georges Simenon

Reading group Georges Simenon Identifying the murderer in Maigret and the Man on the Bench is of scant concern to a writer preoccupied with deeper secrets Georges Simenon, pictured in 1962. Photograph: Stuart Heydinger/the Observer It isn’t normal to begin reviews of detective novels by…

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann review – plague, war and practical jokes

Book of the day Fiction The talented Austro-German has created a dazzling, picaresque romp but he squanders the potential of his best character Daniel Kehlmann ‘puts us deftly inside Tyll’s fretful mind.’ Photograph: Alejandro García/EPA-EFE Time and again, Daniel Kehlmann’s novels feature an artist whose…

Maaza Mengiste on the Ethiopian women who fought Italy – books podcast

The Italian invasion of 1935 is a pivotal moment in Ethiopia’s history. The novelist Maaza Mengiste explains how she discovered that women had been written out of this story, and why her novel The Shadow King circles around seen and unseen photographs. And Aida Edemariam…

Hundreds of readers donate copies of depression memoir after Caroline Flack’s death

Booksellers Prompted by a reader’s offer, donations to two bookshops have already funded hundreds of giveaways of Matt Haig’s book Reasons to Stay Alive ‘This book has made a difference’ … bookseller Simon Key. Photograph: Lewis Khan/The Guardian An independent bookseller has been deluged with…

Poem of the week: Bright is the Ring of Words by Robert Louis Stevenson

Carol Rumens’s poem of the week Poetry I was surprised how much impact this Victorian classic holds. An untarnished golden oldie? I think so The power of art … Robert Louis Stevenson. Photograph: Harry Ransom Center/The University of Texas at Austin Bright is the Ring…

Antisocial: How Online Extremists Broke America by Andrew Marantz – review

Book of the day Society books A US journalist infiltrates the toxic world of alt-right ‘news’ peddlers in an absorbing study of online propaganda and its threat to democracy Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, ‘faithfully followed by mainstream media, like beagles following a live trail’. Photograph:…

Leïla Slimani: ‘This book is a mirror to make the elite look reality in the face’

The Observer Leïla Slimani Leïla Slimani: ‘This book is a mirror to make the elite look reality in the face’ As her book Sex and Lies appears in English, the bestselling author of Lullaby and face of Macron’s France is emerging as a champion of…