One Novel, One Day (Novels In Which The Action Takes Place Within 24 Hours)

While in drama the Classical Unity of Time prescribes that the action of a play is to take place during a single day, the novel more-often-than-not covers a much longer period of time. There are, however, some notable examples where the time narrated is only one day. The most prominent example is James Joyce’s Ulysses, a novel which in one way or another has influenced the genesis of other novels whose action takes place within 24 hours. Seeing as this is Bloomsday, I thought it was the perfect time to celebrate by publishing this list:

A special category can be established for novels told in retrospect (Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Graves’s Claudius novels, for instance), though such an exercise eventually comes to include so many first-person novels as to become too cumbersome to be of much use.

If you can think of any that I’m missing please let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure they get added

The Act of Roger Murgatroyd, Gilbert Adair
The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years, Chinghiz Aitmatov
Un día en la vida, Manlio Argueta
The Mezzanine, Nicholson Baker
Vox, Nicholson Baker
Windows on the World, Frédéric Beigbeder
Seize the Day, Saul Bellow
One Night @ the Call Centre, Chetan Bhagat
Children of the Day, Sandra Birdsell
Billiards at Half-Past Nine, Heinrich Böll
Twenty-four Hours, Louis Bromfield
The Da Vinci Code (excluding the epilogue), Dan Brown
Angels and Demons (excluding the epilogue), Dan Brown
Deception Point, Dan Brown
Digital Fortress, Dan Brown
The Art of the Engine Driver,Steven Carroll
Wise Children (excluding the narrator’s memories), Angela Carter
The Hours (three plots each taking one day), Michael Cunningham
Arlington Park, Rachel Cusk
Cosmopolis, Don DeLillo
Cold Dog Soup, Stephen Dobyns
Grado. Süße Nacht, Gustav Ernst
Death of a River Guide, Richard Flanagan
Party Going, Henry Green
Concluding, Henry Green
The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid
No Directions, James Hanley
That He’d Remember the Same, Elina Hirvonen
A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood:
Ulysses, James Joyce
The Colorado Kid, Stephen King
Odd Thomas, Dean Koontz
Intimacy, Hanif Kureishi
Mr. Phillips, John Lanchester
Eleven, David Llewellyn
The British Museum Is Falling Down, David Lodge
Days, James Lovegrove
Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry
Saturday, Ian McEwan
This Town Will Never Let Us Go, Lawrence Miles
Bunny Lake Is Missing, Merriam Modell (writing as Evelyn Piper)
I Am Mary Dunne, Brian Moore
After Dark, Haruki Murakami
Several books in The Keys to the Kingdom series, Garth Nix
The Farmers Hotel, John O’Hara
From Nine to Nine, Leo Perutz
Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
Scarecrow (excluding the prologue and the epilogue), Matthew Reilly
Eleven Hours, Paullina Simons
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Light of Day, Graham Swift
Loaded, Christos Tsiolkas
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf
The Almost Moon, Alice Sebold
Breathing Lessons, Anne Taylor
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, Jon McGregor
Injury Time, Catherine Aird
The Pigeon, Wendell M. Levi
The Poorhouse Fair, John Updike
Popcorn, Ben Elton
A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood
Snuff, Chuck Palahniuk
Tomorrow, Graham Swift
Travels in the Scriptorium, Paul Auster
Man in the Dark, Paul Auster
On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan
Run, Ann Patchett
Dear American Airlines, Jonathan Miles
The Floating Opera, John Barth
Room Temperature, Nicholson Baker
Embers, Sandor Marai
Restlessness, Aritha Van Herk
253, Geoff Ryman
The Rider, Tim Krabbe
The Following Story, Cees Nooteboom
Rapture, Susan Minot
Vertical Run, Joseph Garber

4 thoughts on “One Novel, One Day (Novels In Which The Action Takes Place Within 24 Hours)”

  1. Pingback: 24 For The Literatti – Artifacting

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top