Giovanni's Room

Front Cover
Penguin Books Limited, Oct 4, 2001 - Fiction - 176 pages
3 Reviews

'Exquisite, a feat of fire-breathing, imaginative daring' Guardian

David, a young American in 1950s Paris, is waiting for his fiancée to return from vacation in Spain. But when he meets Giovanni, a handsome Italian barman, the two men are drawn into an intense affair. After three months David's fiancée returns and, denying his true nature, he rejects Giovanni for a 'safe' future as a married man. His decision eventually brings tragedy.

Filled with passion, regret and longing, this story of a fated love triangle has become a landmark of gay writing. James Baldwin caused outrage as a black author writing about white homosexuals, yet for him the issues of race, sexuality and personal freedom were eternally intertwined.

'If Van Gogh was our 19th-century artist-saint, James Baldwin is our 20th-century one' Michael Ondaatje

'Baldwin writes of these matters with unusual candour and yet with such dignity and intensity' The New York Times

'Violent, excruciating beauty' San Francisco Chronicle

What people are saying - Write a review

Giovanni's room

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Baldwin's 1956 novel, his second, was daring for its time, depicting a young man deep into Paris's second expatriate movement following World War II as he grapples with his sexual identity. He is drawn both to his fianc e and to a male Italian bartender with whom he begins an affair. Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Writing to stirr and nourish the soul. Reading this book in high school set me on a quest to read everything James Baldwin has ever written, and so far I have always been impressed. Two of my other favorites are If Beale Street Could Talk and Just Above My Head.

Other editions - View all

About the author (2001)

Born in Harlem in 1924, Baldwin had an early career as a teenage preacher. He lived in Paris from 1948-1956 and his first novels, the autobiographical GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN and GIOVANNI'S ROOM established him as a promising novelist and anticipated some of the themes of his later works, such as racism and sexuality. He became a prominent spokesperson for racial equality, especially during the civil rights movement. He lived in France during his last years. Baldwin died in 1987.

Bibliographic information