Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party, By Alexander McCall Smith

Not so much a comic novel more the defense of fat folk. Alexander McCall Smith must have some friends from America who have over indulged themselves over the years. He’s also keen on the Anglo Irish aristocracy and the slightly eccentric way of life in rural Ireland but has it in for literary critics and airline staff.

The 174 page novelette was the winner of the 2015 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize beating off rivals authors including Caitlin Moran, Irvine Welsh and Joseph O’Neill to scoop the prize.
PG Wodehouse it is not. Instead what seems at first to be a comedy of errors turns into a rather disappointing and simplistic story of the wronged American.
The story hinges on a series of misunderstandings when Betty and Fatty visit Ireland in search of their Irish roots. At every turn they are wronged and insulted but keep smiling in the hope all will be well. There’s some comic moments including the stuck-in-the-bath incident and the visit to a pub where a quick witted local fleeces them for free drinks.

They are plagued by the pretentious Rupert O’Brien who makes fun of their lack of knowledge about the arts but are charmed by Lord Balnerry who appears to be a con man. Constructed in three ‘courses’ or chapters the novel is like a poor quality ready meal rather than a dinner party.

To pick up the title dedicated to PG Wodehouse one would hope for more laughs from its leading character. Fatty is no Bertie Wooster.
Harry Mottram Two stars.
Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party is published by Polygon in hardback. 2014. £9.99.