Books Like Ulysses
Some books are epic in scope and feature stories that can span generations. However, other authors have taken the complete opposite approach to their novels. For example, in Ulysses by James Joyce, the story chronicles just one ordinary day in the life of the protagonist Leopold Bloom. By shortening the duration of the novel, Joyce provided a more intimate look at the actions of his protagonist. Other authors have taken this approach, too, so check out the following books like Ulysses that are all set in a single day.
by Virginia Woolf
One of the most famous novels like Ulysses that is set in a single day is Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. The protagonist, Clarissa Dalloway, is a high-society woman in post-First World War England. Woolf based the story around Clarissa going about town in the morning in preparation for a party that she is hosting in the evening. During this time, she also reflects on her youth and the choices that she has made in life. While Mrs. Dalloway features a few flashbacks, most of the novel takes place in one day in the middle of June of 1923.
by Michael Cunningham
The Hours is a Pulitzer price winning novel by Michael Cunningham. It not only shares similarities with Ulysses as the story is set within a single day but also with Mrs. Dalloway. Virginia Woolf is one of the characters in the story, along with Clarissa Vaughan and Laura Brown. The novel follows Woolf as she begins to write Mrs. Dalloway in 1923 and Vaughan, who is planning a party in honor of a beloved friend in modern-day New York. Brown, meanwhile, is living in a 1949 Los Angeles suburb, where she begins to feel the constraints of her life. Although the stories are set in three different eras and feature three different protagonists, everything takes place within the space of a day and shares a special connection.
by Patrick Ness
Release by Patrick Ness is about one day in the life of a young man named Adam Thorn. The book follows two separate stories, with one being the realistic tale of Adam and the other a supernatural story about a resurrected murdered girl. Adam struggles with being a gay teen living in the highly religious household of his parents. He also still has feelings for his ex, despite being in a relationship with someone new. These are just the tip of the iceberg for an emotional day where Adam has to face all kinds of trials and tribulations. The two storylines fit together nicely in the end, but it is Adam's story that shares the most similarities with Ulysses.
by Leah Konen
Love and Other Train Wrecks by Leah Konen is the tale of two teens, Noah and Ammy, who find themselves on the same train heading for New York. Noah is traveling home in an effort to win back his first love, while Ammy is cynical about love after her parents split up. The two don't exactly have a great first impression, but then their train breaks down in the middle of a snowstorm. Stranded in the middle of nowhere and desperate to make it to their destinations, Noah and Ammy agree to travel together. The story follows the two over the course of one night that has the potential to change their lives forever.
by Rachel Cusk
Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk is a novel set over a single rainy day in the titular modern-day English suburb. The story moves from one middle-class family mother to the next as it chronicles both the victories and tragedies that they experience. Arlington Park also mirrors the plot of Mrs. Dalloway from a contemporary setting. The book is filled with dark humor as well as insightful social commentary.
by Ian McEwan
Saturday by Ian McEwan is the story of Henry Perowne and chronicles one day in his life. Henry is a successful neurosurgeon who starts his day witnessing a plane streaking across the London sky with its wing on fire. All Henry wanted from his Saturday was to play a game of squash, visit the nursing home where his mother is residing and then cook a meal for his family who will be in town. Unfortunately for Henry, the incident with the plane fills him with a sense of unease that continues to grow over the course of the day.
by Haruki Murakami
After Dark is the seventh novel by Haruki Murakami and covers only seven hours of a night in Tokyo. The book ties together three different stories featuring a 19-year old student named Mari, a trombone player named Takahashi, and Eri's sister, who has not woken up from a deep sleep for a long time. The characters in After Dark all share their philosophical takes on life and their circumstances, while the author's trademark magical realism also features prominently. Each chapter in the novel advances the time as the characters go about their lives between midnight and dawn.
by Emiliano Monge
Among The Lost by Emiliano Monge is a dark novel set across a single day. It is the story of Estela and Epitafio, but don't expect any romance or heroes in the traditional sense. Both Estela and Epitafio were trafficked and grew together in an orphanage but now make a living from that same corrupt system. From trading in migrants to putting children to work as slaves, their hands are certainly not clean. Carrying out atrocities while working for the wayward priest that ran their orphanage, they prey on other people who are desperate for better lives. Among The Lost is not an easy novel to read, but it is a powerful one that draws attention to important issues.