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Giovanni's Room (Vintage International) Paperback – 12 September 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 4,589 ratings

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About the Author

James Baldwin (1924–1987) was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews, and his essay collections Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time were bestsellers that made him an influential figure in the growing civil rights movement. Baldwin spent much of his life in France, where he moved to escape the racism and homophobia of the United States. He died in France in 1987, a year after being made a Commander of the French Legion of Honor.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Vintage; 1st edition (12 September 2013)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 176 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0345806565
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0345806567
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 181 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 13.11 x 1.37 x 20.19 cm
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 4,588 ratings

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James Baldwin (1924-1987) was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic, and one of America's foremost writers. His essays, such as "Notes of a Native Son" (1955), explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-twentieth-century America. A Harlem, New York, native, he primarily made his home in the south of France.

His novels include Giovanni's Room (1956), about a white American expatriate who must come to terms with his homosexuality, and Another Country (1962), about racial and gay sexual tensions among New York intellectuals. His inclusion of gay themes resulted in much savage criticism from the black community. Going to Meet the Man (1965) and Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone (1968) provided powerful descriptions of American racism. As an openly gay man, he became increasingly outspoken in condemning discrimination against lesbian and gay people.

Photo by Allan warren (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
4,589 global ratings

Top reviews from India

Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 1 July 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars So the seller is cheating us by pricing the product too high for hard bound copies.
By Shilpi on 1 July 2022
The actual price is 799 for hard bound book. But the 5 stars are for the author and not the seller.
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 25 June 2022
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 30 March 2021
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4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommend
By Pooja Nandi on 30 March 2021
Sexual orientation—a subject much talked about, but less accepted. Everyone knows, what is it, how does it come to light, and also when, but nobody talks about why. Why is important to talk about it, why is it important to treat it as a common as periods, and most of all what to do about it.
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This novel #GiovannisRoom talks about the life of a guy named David, who discovers his sexual orientation through an unforeseen instance in his childhood. He convinces himself of it being a mistake and lives his life for a lie. And so indulges in a heterosexual relationship growing up.
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It's only after his girl Hella moves away for a short trip when he moves out and discovers his long-suppressed feelings as a man. He meets Giovanni, a handsome barman; to get him acquainted to his own friend Jacques, he holds up a conversation. Only to realise, Giovanni's interest lies only in him.
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From friends to lovers, was quite easy a transition, but it didn't last long. Hella's comeback with her brought the fear of the past, David's incapability of accepting who he was. Soon, he moved out of Giovanni's room and left a bitter experience of love behind.
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While he moved on, nothing seemed to be the same. He had the love of his life—Hella, but love was nowhere to be felt. Giovanni's death sentence was the last blow and his life broke down like a house of cards in a go. He lingered with what he knew; only his acceptance came now. In the end, all he was left with, was hope—that the heavy grace of God, which brought him to the place, can carry him out it.
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 22 July 2019
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, tender, honest and enchanting!
By Placeholder on 22 July 2019
'Then I wanted to beg him to forgive me. But this would have been too great a confession; any yielding at that moment would have locked me forever in that room with him. And in a way this was exactly what I wanted.'

Giovanni's Room is a brilliant book. It has all the elements in it to be called a perfect piece of literary fiction - sublime language, complex and realistic characters,a heavy dose of tender emotions and the climactic tragedy.

This lyrical work is a tumultuous study of humans caught in the miasma of shame, lust, guilt and desire. The protagonist is trapped in what is society's conception of correctness. The city of Paris, the bar houses, the streets and 'Giovanni's room' mimic this congestion. It's breathtaking how the writer has juxtaposed the abstract and the physical.

Everything about this book is hauntingly mesmerising and tenderly moving. It is a remarkable gay novel, but it's not just a gay novel. It's about everyone and for everyone.
Please read this, I insist you.

What I didn't like was the not so subtle misogyny in the book which is definitely unsettling not so much because it is anti women which, well, it is, but more because it creates a sinister relationship between homosexuality and misogyny. It can be misleading and harmful in ways more than one. I can't say if the author intended that but the last thing one expects to find in gay literature is the usual streaks of homophobia laced with comfortable ignorance and insensitivity.
But I can't change my stand on how compelling this book is. It's easily one of the best books I have read, a 5 🌟 book if not for the not-so-slightly bugging thing about women and gays, so I give it 4 🌟

Here, have a look at this bewichingly beautiful paragraph -

"I remember that life in that room seemed to be occurring beneath the sea, time flowed past indifferently above us, hours and days had no meaning. In the beginning our life held a joy and amazement which was newborn every day. Beneath the joy, of course, was anguish and beneath the amazement was fear; but they did not work themselves to the beginning until our high beginning was aloes on our tongues. By then anguish and fear had become the surface on which we slipped and slid, losing balance, dignity, and pride."

Have I convinced you enough?
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3 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 23 January 2022
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 1 May 2021
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 24 June 2020
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 3 August 2021
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3.0 out of 5 stars Small font
By Asha Manu on 3 August 2021
I liked the book, but the font is extremely small and hurts the eyes like hell. I feel so sorry to have purchased this edition.
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Top reviews from other countries

Catman
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding - One of the best books I've ever read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 18 August 2018
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24 people found this helpful
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A D. F. WEBB
4.0 out of 5 stars Not THAT good
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 31 July 2022
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Victoria@CartonManetteDarnay
5.0 out of 5 stars Call Me By Your Name meets Tender is the Night in Giovanni’s Room
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 5 April 2021
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Sarah Wood
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight and intimacy found and lost
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 4 September 2021
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Peter Fowler
1.0 out of 5 stars Grey, Grey and Grey
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 2 January 2020
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6 people found this helpful
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