Giovanni's Room

author: James Baldwin
publication date: 1956
format: ebook
language: English
reread: no

initial thoughts

click to openEven though this book has been on my TBR for ages, the only thing I know about it at the moment is that it explores a gay relationship where the main character apparently moves into the room of his partner in Paris. I also know that it was written and published prior to the gay liberation movement. Speaking of that, I didn't realize, before googling the book to brush up on my context knowledge, how prominent a figure James Baldwin actually was! I've heard of him and many of his works in passing, but never really made the connection between them, so to say.
Anyway, that's the gist of it. I'm really curious to find out more about the book's publication history, but I'm going to read it first.

final thoughts

This is a perfectly good book. The timing just wasn’t right for me in more ways than one. I was sick for half of February and wasn’t feeling up to reading anything that required thinking, and then Bad Stuff just kept happening, I had other things on my mind and my heart simply wasn’t in the book. I would’ve DNFed when I realized I got stuck, but I really didn’t want to do that to the first Bookbug book I read… Oh well, I did finish it after all! Yay for that!

I’m afraid I don’t have many thoughts, since half of the time I was just waiting for the book to be over :/ I liked Baldwin’s writing, concise, but with just enough striking details to paint a clear picture. I liked that the titular room could represent so much: occasionally it was a bubble where David and Giovanni could be together, other times it represented the closet, the shame that comes with internalized homophobia and the loneliness of it all. This is a book about very lonely people. I wish I were reading it at some other time in my life when I could connect to it more.


I suppose this was why I asked her to marry me: to give myself something to be moored to. Perhaps this was why, in Spain, she decided that she wanted to marry me. But people can’t, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents, life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say “Yes” to life.