To most, today, June 16, might just be another Tuesday. But for James Joyce fans around the world, June 16 marks the ever-important literary celebration, Bloomsday. In commemoration of the Irish writer’s novel Ulysses, The Irish House (1432 St. Charles Ave.) will be hosting a reading of the epic story. Writers and literary enthusiasts from across the city will come out to narrate excerpts of the famously dense, Ulysess.
In the nearly 800-page novel, Joyce recounts the numerous romantic events that occur in the life of the fictitious Leopold Bloom— all on the day of June 16, 1904. The day was not only important in the life of Joyce’s protagonist, though. June 16 was also the day that Joyce first met his future wife, Nora Barnacle.
Fast-forward to 2015 and it is clear that the day has remained an important one in the lives of Joyce’s abundant fans. Dorian Joye, the marketing manager at The Irish House, said that the Bloomsday celebrations are important cultural phenomenon.
“Bloomsday is sort of an international literary festival day, essentially,” she explained. “We want to celebrate these representatives of our native country, just like we would celebrate any other celebrity.”
The event at The Irish House tonight will feature six New Orleans writers including Yuri Herrera, Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, and Katy Simpson Smith. Event coordinators wanted to have a wide range of readers at the event.
“They tried to do a combination of people who are locally familiar and other acclaimed readers and writers who have an affinity for James Joyce,” Joye said.
At the reading, there will be an introduction about the history and importance of Bloomsday followed by excerpts read by each of the writers.
“Part of the appeal, I think, is that Ulysses is infamously known to be very difficult to read, so the idea of having a lot of reading at the event allows the readers to bring in their interpretations,” Joye commented. “That makes it much more accessible.”
But the event is not a time for only the acclaimed authors to shine.
“If members of the audience would like to do an excerpt, that is also very encouraged,” Joye said.
Overall, Joye said that tonight’s Bloomsday reading is mostly about celebrating Joyce and other parts of Irish culture.
“James Joyce is, of course, a very famous Irish writer,“ she said. “As an Irish pub, we want to hold on to and promote Irish culture in all of its aspects. The Irish are very passionate about their writers.”