Giovanni’s Room | James Baldwin

Giovanni's Room



Review By Sophie | State Street Bookstore

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

This short and devastating novel follows David, a complicated protagonist spending the limbo of his late 20’s in Europe without a secure path for his future. Under his practiced façade of a witty and easygoing world traveler who is enjoying his youth before settling down with a woman back in the United States, David is struggling internally with his sexuality and sense of self. When he meets a man named Giovanni late one night in a seedy Paris bar, David realizes his façade is not as strong as he had previously thought.

Giovanni’s Room is the heartbreaking experience of someone who refuses to accept his true nature out of pure self-preservation. David’s inability to be honest with himself and others is a burden he has carried with him all his life— a self-inflicted curse that hurts the people he loves in ways he will never be able to reconcile.

James Baldwin’s masterful writing is at its best in Giovanni’s Room. The story is told in his famously beautiful prose and is full of moments of intense, raw emotion and hard truths. Captivating from start to finish, Giovanni’s Room is an essential read both for fans of Baldwin and those reading his work for the first time.


James Baldwin’s groundbreaking novel about love and the fear of love is set among the bohemian bars and nightclubs of 1950s Paris.

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.

Sophie Devarenne is a bookseller at our State Street location. Her favorite book at the moment is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction). She says the story is a perfect mix of captivating writing, suspense, and introspection with a cast of remarkably real and lovable characters.