Giovanni's Room (Vintage International) (Paperback)
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From one of the most brilliant and provocative literary figures of the past century comes a groundbreaking novel set among the bohemian bars and nightclubs of 1950s Paris, about love and the fear of love—"a book that belongs in the top rank of fiction" (The Atlantic).
In the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality.
David is a young American expatriate who has just proposed marriage to his girlfriend, Hella. While she is away on a trip, David meets a bartender named Giovanni to whom he is drawn in spite of himself. Soon the two are spending the night in Giovanni’s curtainless room, which he keeps dark to protect their privacy. But Hella’s return to Paris brings the affair to a crisis, one that rapidly spirals into tragedy.
David struggles for self-knowledge during one long, dark night—“the night which is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life.” With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin's now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a deeply moving story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.
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.
“If Van Gogh was our 19th-century artist-saint, James Baldwin is our 20th-century one.” —Michael Ondaatje
“A young American involved with both a woman and a man. . . . Baldwin writes of these matters with unusual candor and yet with such dignity and intensity.” —The New York Times
“Absorbing . . . [with] immediate emotional impact.” —The Washington Post
“Mr. Baldwin has taken a very special theme and treated it with great artistry and restraint.” —Saturday Review
“Exciting ... a book that belongs in the top rank of fiction.” —The Atlantic
“Violent, excruciating beauty.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“To be James Baldwin is to touch on so many hidden places in Europe, America, the Negro, the white man —to be forced to understand so much.” —Alfred Kazin
“This author retains a place in an extremely select group; that composed of the few genuinely indispensable American writers.” —Saturday Review
“He has not himself lost access to the sources of his being —which is what makes him read and awaited by perhaps a wider range of people than any other major American writer.” —The Nation
“He is thought-provoking, tantalizing, irritating, abusing and amusing. And he uses words as the sea uses waves, to flow and beat, advance and retreat, rise and take a bow in disappearing . . . the thought becomes poetry and the poetry illuminates thought.” —Langston Hughes
“He has become one of the few writers of our time.” —Norman Mailer