A List of International Epics

In News Blog, What's the Buzz by Edward Nawotka

By Mark Garcia-Prats

Yesterday, one hundred and six years ago, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus journeyed through the cobbled streets of Dublin. Well . . . sort of. Bloom and Dedalus are the famous characters from James Joyce’s Ulysses, the story of which takes place in Dublin on a single day — June 16, 1904.

Each year on that date, fans of Ulysses from around the world celebrate the quintessential Irish novel- some retracing the steps of their favorite character, while others simply drink a Guinness or reread a favorite chapter.

Joshua Cohen, author of Witz, a “capacious” and “complex” (his words) 800-page novel about the last Jew in the world, showed his joy for Bloomsday by compiling a list of books from different cultures of the world, each of which have been referred to as that cultures Ulysses. The 12-novel list is not for the faint of heart — it includes over 6,000 pages of reading.

It’s an intriguing way to think of world lit — as one long epic. (Of course, there are some titles we disagree with . . . honestly, All About H. Hatterr by G.V. Desani is a great book — and we are fans since, of course, Desani was a long-time professor at the University of Texas, but surely there are other truly “epic” candidates.)

Enjoy and happy (belated) Bloomsday!

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka is the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. A former foreign correspondent, he has covered the book business exclusively since 2000, serving as daily news editor for Publishers Weekly and columnist for Bloomberg News.