In cities around the world this month, throngs will turn out to celebrate Bloomsday, June 16, honoring James Joyce’s landmark novel Ulysses—which may baffle anyone who’s made a failed stab at reading the famously impenetrable day-in-the-life epic.
But it all makes perfect sense to the overseer of the biggest Bloomsday fete, a seven-day party in Joyce’s hometown of Dublin. “Ulysses is a very democratic book in that it brings people together,” says Mark Traynor, manager of Dublin’s James Joyce Centre. “You can’t read it in isolation—it almost requires a support group.”
In addition to retracing the steps of Ulysses’ hero, Leopold Bloom, through the city streets, Dublin Bloomsday attendees can partake of Joyce-centric readings, seminars and performances galore (including an experimental theater piece, (S)quark!, that employs an actual parrot in discussing the question: Was Joyce a genius?).
For first-timers, Traynor recommends the Bloomsday breakfast—though queasy eaters may balk at Bloom’s beloved grilled kidneys. “It’s a wonderfully social atmosphere,” Traynor says of the meal, “even if the menu isn’t to everybody’s taste.” JUNE 10–16