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Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

Giovanni's Room (1956)

by James Baldwin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: KIK * Klub Interesującej Książki

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,581772,439 (4.12)313
Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin's now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.… (more)

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» See also 313 mentions

English (74)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
The prose is, at times, luscious and, at others, self-consciously bourgeois -- as if Baldwin's attempts to model himself after James are a little too contrived. Nevertheless, it is a compelling novel worthy of its reputation. ( )
  TheaJean | Jun 2, 2020 |
This is one slick piece of writing. Like whiskey, this tale of universal love, desire, and the boxes we put ourselves in burns as it goes down, but like most fires of love, when it comes back up, it's very messy.

Of course, I could be talking about any kind of romance novel, but this one is special because it is written by a master of prose, it came out in the '50s, and it is a classic of gay literature. Or is it?

I don't know.

The writing transcends sexual orientation, the color of his skin (black), and dives right into the heart of what it means to be trapped. Trapped by love, by expectations, by poverty, by the community, or by your own pig-headedness.

Suffice to say, it's rather universal. I'm sure lots of people might raise their hands and say this is one of THE seminal pieces of black literature or gay literature, but I just see it as great literature. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
I neither loved this nor hated it. It's always difficult for me to form an opinion on books with exclusively "unlikable" characters, especially when they are classics and have merit that I do appreciate. I enjoyed the writing style and I always like when there's other languages (French, in this case) mixed in. ( )
  j_tuffi | May 30, 2020 |
Read 2016. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 11, 2020 |
Having loved Go Tell It on the Mountain, I found myself disappointed with my second James Baldwin novel. Baldwin's prose in Go Tell It on the Mountain was ferocious, dynamic in a way I've never before encountered in American literature. In Giovanni's Room, unfortunately, the general tone feels much more detached, with most of the character's exhibiting a lethargic ennui only occasionally broken by bouts of horniness. This makes the intensity of the novel's one powerful character, Giovanni himself, seem melodramatic and ugly rather than loving and endearing as it may have seemed had Giovanni been a character in Go Tell It on the Mountain instead.

The story is one that naturally tugs at a readers heartstrings. Baldwin's protagonist, David, struggles to come to terms with his sexuality as an expat in Paris in the middle of the 20th century, and he has to choose between his female fiancée and his male boyfriend. I really did enjoy the book, but it hasn't stuck with me the way Go Tell it on the Mountain has. That's no biggie, though, because there aren't many books that have. ( )
  bgramman | May 9, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
what draws lovers of the book to its story of betrayal and the possibility of redemption through truth and, ultimately, to the question of the body as home, is the vision of Baldwin stumbling through it, sure-footed and alone, walking toward the idea that love may come attached with different ideas of what it should look like, feel like, but in the end, it’s what you do with its responsibilities that renders you genderless — and human.
added by danielx | editNew York Times, Hilton Als (May 5, 2019)
added by gsc55 | editHearts on Fire, Delta (May 11, 2013)

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Baldwinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Phillips, CarylIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prinsen, G.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I am the man, I suffered, I was there.
- Whitman
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I stand at the window of this great house in the south of France as night falls, the night which is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Average: (4.12)
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1.5 1
2 21
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141186356, 0141032944

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