Giovanni's Room

Giovanni's Room

Summary

One of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped Our World'

Baldwin's ground-breaking second novel, which established him as one of the great American writers of his time

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.

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

'Excruciating beauty' San Francisco Chronicle

'Audacious... remarkable... elegant and courageous' Caryl Phillips

Reviews

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

About the author

James Baldwin

Born in Harlem in 1924, James Baldwin was a novelist, essayist, play­wright, poet, social critic and the author of more than twenty books. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews, and his essay col­lection The Fire Next Time was a bestseller that made him an influential figure in the civil rights movement. Baldwin spent many years in France, where he moved to escape the racism and homophobia of the United States. He died in 1987.
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