His first book, Dubliners, was rejected 22 times and sold fewer than 400 copies (120 of those to James Joyce himself) in its first year. Yet Joyce went on to simultaneously define the Modernist novel and Dublin in the early 20th century. Although Joyce lived most of his life in Paris, Trieste, Rome and Zurich, it was in his native Dublin that his characters and stories found life.
With the assistance of the poet and critic Ezra Pound, Joyce set the Modernist novel in motion with his own library of work—Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Praised as a Modernist masterpiece, Ulysses follows Leopold Bloom through an ordinary Dublin day, using inventive storytelling techniques including stream of consciousness and prose richly layered with puns, parodies, allusions and humor. In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Ulysses first on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
More on the novels of James Joyce