Leonard and Hungry Paul

Leonard and Hungry Paul

Ronan Hession

Literary balm for the soul and a warm-hearted celebration of all that is treasurable about everyday life.

Their friendship was not just one of convenience between two quiet, solitary men with few other options, it was a pact.

A disarming novel that asks a simple question: Can gentle people change the world?

In this charming and truly unique debut, 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 realise that none of this is considered . . . normal.

Leonard and Hungry Paul are two friends who ordinarily would remain uncelebrated. The novel finds a value and specialness in them that is not immediately apparent and prompts the idea that maybe we could learn from the people that we overlook in life. Leonard and Hungry Paul change the world differently to the rest of us: we try and change it by effort and force; they change it by discovering the small things they can do well and offering them to others.


Leonard and Hungry Paul is published by Bluemoose Books, an independent publisher based in West Yorkshire, run by a husband-and-wife team. They have helped launch the careers of prize-winning authors and aim to find new and vibrant voices, developing writing and publishing careers.

Leonard and Hungry Paul has often been described as a gentle or kind book. Do you agree and if so, why do you think this is?

Discuss the importance of ‘change’ in the book – whether change is forced on people or whether they choose to make change for themselves?

How much did others perceptions of the two main characters create a way of promoting or blocking their development. Do you think the message was that we should develop as we age or that we shouldn’t need to?

Do you recognise the characters Leonard and Hungry Paul in anyone you know, and did the book make you re-evaluate your views of them?

There are references to symmetry and contrast in the book. Explore how the author might have used these to create tension within the story.

Leonard’s job is to convey information in a simple way and to an extent this job is something of the past, now made redundant by the internet. Do you think this is symbolic or important in anyway?

Through the two friends’ conversations, much of the small details of life are picked over. Are there any other books you have read where this has also been the case?

What do you think was the significance of the words that Hungry Paul won the competition with?

Why do you think Hungry Paul is called this. What do his family call him?



Leonard and Hungry Paul is Ronan Hession’s debut novel. It was shortlisted for several literary awards including the Booksellers’ Books are My Bag Award 2019, The British Book of The year Awards 2020 –Debut and The Kerry Group Irish Novel of the year 2020. Hession also received shortlisting for author awards, including the The Dalkey Literary Award for emerging writer 2020.



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