Leonard and Hungry Paul (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Hungry Paul wants a job. No, that’s a lie, he’s got one, a once-weekly substitute mail carrier gig. It’s actually his sister Grace who wants him to get a full-time job, so he’ll finally move out from his parents’ house. Leonard lived with his mom too, but she just passed away. Leonard has a job, ghost-writing copy for children’s reference books. He also has a dream, to write his own children’s book.  And maybe to go on a date with Shelley, with whom he shares office space. Hungry Paul also has a dream – to win a local contest coming up with a better way to close correspondence. ‘Sincerely yours’ just doesn’t cut it. Leonard and Hungry Paul is a delightful book with a gentle sense of humor - and sometimes not-so-gentle - I laughed out loud more than once. Leonard and Hungry Paul is perfect for fans of  - dare I say it? - A Man Called Ove. It was recommended to me by two customers, and now I’m recommending it to you!

— Daniel Goldin

Here’s a story of two best friends who are attempting to move beyond the bubble they have kept themselves inside with the same routines ruling them. Leonard’s mother has passed away, and he is caught a bit off guard when he realizes a woman has taken an interest in him. Hungry Paul is comfortably still living with his parents, though his sister is getting married and attempting to get him to move on with his life. Through their friendship with each other (and Hungry Paul’s parents and sister) these two socially insecure men are able to move onward without changing who they are or what they believe. A heartwarming tale that will cause you to smile and laugh as you read. It did for me. 

— Jason Kennedy

Honestly, there’s hardly a sentence in Leonard and Hungry Paul that isn’t a delight to read. Musician and first-time novelist Rónán Hession drew me into his novel with his mix of laugh-out-loud funny scenarios and the subtle humor of his writing, but I kept reading for the characters. Leonard and Hungry Paul are best friends and game night enthusiasts who have always found happiness in simple, quiet moments and a sweetly endearing bond with their parents (they both live at home). When the usual meanderings of everyday life intrude to shake up their steady, reliable days, the result is a gentle tempest of complications and unforeseen emotions. How they endure and even blossom makes for a charming novel that can’t help but leave you feeling happy. And after the year we’ve all just had, it’s the book we all deserve.

— Jenny Chou

There are few titles I would compare to Gail Tsukiyama’s The Samurai’s Garden and Jeanette Haien’s The All of It, two highlights of my bookselling career. But Leonard and Hungry Paul generates a sense of wisdom and leaves the reader with a calmness beyond the plot, in a world overrun by uncertainty and endless noise. Irish writer Rónán Hession renders in poignantly lovely prose the story of two men whose friendship and mutual kindness, ultimately defined by at what stage does a helping hand become one that holds a hand. Hungry Paul and Leonard will endear themselves to every reader and their story will continue to inspire with each re-read.

— Jane Glaser

A little heartwarming, a little depressing, this book throws its dart right in the middle of a cheerful / thoughtful / melancholy Venn diagram. It’s a dramedy about two gentle, never-left-home, mid-thirties pals – you might call them nerds if you were feeling unkind – who’ll have to grow up, stand up, and wise up (if only just a little) when their lives are shaken up by, well, the things that shake up otherwise quiet, common lives – a workplace romance, a parent’s death, a civic honor, and a wedding. One minor miracle is the subtle but sure touch Hession brings to depicting grief. Honestly, the best thing about L&HP is the sense of calm it leaves behind – you might not want to trade places with these guys, but you will leave their lives hoping you, too, can be a bit more kind.

— Chris Lee


A disarming novel that asks a simple question: Can gentle people change the world?
In this charming and truly unique debut, popular Irish musician Ronan Hession tells the story of two single, thirty-something men who still live with their parents and who are . . . nice. They take care of their parents and play board games together. They like to read. They take satisfaction from their work. They are resolutely kind. And they realize that none of this is considered . . . normal.
Leonard and Hungry Paul is the story of two friends struggling to protect their understanding of what’s meaningful in life. It is about the uncelebrated people of this world — the gentle, the meek, the humble. And as they struggle to persevere, the book asks a surprisingly enthralling question: Is it really them against the world, or are they on to something?

About the Author

Ronan Hession is an Irish writer and musician based in Dublin. As Mumblin' Deaf Ro, he has released three albums of songs, and his most recent album, Dictionary Crimes, was nominated for the Choice Music Prize for album of the year. Leonard and Hungry Paul is his first novel, and was shortlisted for an Irish Book of the Year award.

Praise For…

Praise for Leonard and Hungry Paul

British Book Awards 2020 Debut Book of the Year Finalist

Irish Book Awards 2019 Newcomer of the Year Finalist

"The book is a delightful summer read because the characters are so incredibly likable... It's testament to the author's skill that this book, so lacking in the traditional trappings of drama, is somehow a total page turner." --Chloe Veltman, NPR Books

“This quietly brilliant book is as funny as it is wise, as tender as it is ground-breaking.  Rónán Hession mines for gold in the modest lives and ordinary friendships that might appear unpromising to another writer, and my goodness, he finds it. It is also a happy book — and we need those.” — Diane Setterfield, author of The Thirteenth Tale

“A charming, warm-hearted celebration of all that is treasurable about everyday life.” — The Guardian

“Charming without being twee, this funny, warm book will bring you sunshine.” — The Irish Times

'God, what a voice Ronan has. It is spectacular and already feels like a cult classic. I was absolutely hooked.' — Donal Ryan, The Spinning Heart

“For a book that defies convention I would heartily recommend Leonard and Hungry Paul. It’s as simple as it is unique … a celebration of kindness and having enough and being content — and living a life devoid of high drama and conflict. It’s very funny, and well-written, poetic in places. But above all it’s kind, a celebration of often overlooked people.” — Kit de Waal, author of My Name Is Leon

"This beautiful, heartfelt book is fed on wit and purpose . . . it challenges us to take happiness seriously. The result is that its readers may be nourished by it and in turn nourish others. Hession practices the gentleness he preaches, and gives readers a restorative glimpse of what a world based on embracing our best human quirks could look like. This is a novel to hearten us for whatever lies ahead." — The Believer

Product Details
ISBN: 9781612198484
ISBN-10: 1612198481
Publisher: Melville House
Publication Date: August 11th, 2020
Pages: 256
Language: English