Panenka: An admirable and interesting second novel

Book review: Rónán Hession creates a natural successor to Leonard and Hungry Paul

Author Rónán Hession in Portmarnock, Co Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan

Author Rónán Hession in Portmarnock, Co Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan

Like everyone else, I was charmed by Rónán Hession’s first novel which, despite being a book about kind and gentle people making their way through ordinary life events while trying not to hurt anyone, is oddly compelling.

Some of Hession’s authorial decisions are unfashionable: omniscient narrators, fiction built around low-stakes moral dilemmas, lack of physical description (I’m with him on that one: fiction is one of the few areas where it doesn’t have to matter what people look like). “I thought the show-don’t-tell police would have me put away,” he has said. I’m probably a member of that force but these things are fashions, not laws. George Eliot does plenty of telling.

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