Novels whose stories take place within one day.

During the great ice storm I re-read Ben Elton’s Blast fromt he Past. One of my observations was that main story takes place between 1 - 4 a.m. in a London flat.

That got me thinking: What other tales take place within 24 hours? Note: Flashbacks are okay; Dream sequences are not.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich is an obvious choice.

Mary Higgin Clark’s first mystery novel “Where Are The Children” takes place on the protagonist’s 32rd birthday.

Looking for others, folks!

Ian McEwan’s Saturday all takes place on one Saturday in 2003. Other than that, I’m not coming up with anything.

Ulysses is the first thing that popped into my head.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

ETA: Oh, and check out this list.

There’s also Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowery, which is strongly influenced by Ulysses.

Christos Tsiolkas’ Loaded starts in the morning, runs into the night and concludes early the next morning.

The third Wild Cards book, Jokers Wild, takes place on one day, specifically September 15th. In truth, the book is made up of sections written by seven different authors, about the same characters and events, taking place on a single day. It does form a single narrative, though.

Nicholson Baker’s first two novels, The Mezzanine and Room Temperature both take place during extremely short periods of time. The former takes place during an escalator ride and the latter during the bottle-feeding of an infant.

Obviously, they both concern themselves heavily with how the mind free-associates.

FWIW, The Mezzanine was very good. Room Temperature I could have done without.

ETA: His later book Vox may cover a very short period of time as well, I don’t remember it as well.

Might as well add Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, each of which takes place during a nap (although I think even the dream-action in both is still limited to a single day).

Would Dickens’s A Christmas Carol count? It takes place in less than a 24-hour timespan, late afternoon on Christmas Eve to early Christmas morning.

High Noon with Gary Cooper


Stephen King’s Rage, about a young man who takes his high school classroom hostage, takes place over a mere few hours.

(Does the novelization of 24: Redemption count?)

What if the person takes a nap and has a dream about his childhood?

Ah, I missed that. Though I’m afraid I fail to see the point of the stipulation.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Fantastic book.

Da Vinci code? Angels and Demons?

Apart from numerous flashbacks, the action of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is pretty well limited to the birthday of the protagonist. (And by “birthday” I mean the day that he was born.)


I can’t believe I didn’t think of Shandy.

I can’t believe I didn’t think of Mary Higgins Clark’s Silent Night, which starts at twilight on Christmas Eve and ends Christmas morning.

Her daughter Carol Higgins Clark’s Zapped takes place on a night when NYC is having a blackout, except for a short epilogue taking place the following night.

Dram sequences don’t county because book’s dream sequences can take years (yes, Ira Levin, I’m pointing to you with my middle finger), and that just doesn’t happen in real life.

24: The Novel

Though it’s really annoying. It requires you to buy four books and put them together in a square to read certain passages simultaneously.