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James Baldwin’s groundbreaking novel about love and the fear of love is set among the bohemian bars and nightclubs of 1950s Paris.
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. Caught between his repressed desires and conventional morality, 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 sharp, probing insight, Giovanni's Room tells an impassioned, deeply moving story that lays bare the unspoken complexities of the human heart.
Introduction by Colm Tóibín
“If Van Gogh was our nineteenth-century artist-saint, James Baldwin is our twentieth-century one.” —Michael Ondaatje
“Baldwin writes . . . with unusual candor and yet with such dignity and intensity.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES
“Absorbing . . . [with] immediate emotional impact.” —THE WASHINGTON POST
“Violent, excruciating beauty.” —SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
“Exciting . . . A book that belongs in the top rank of fiction.” —THE ATLANTIC
“Baldwin, in this novel, made clear that he could work wonders with the light and shade of intimacy . . . The tone continues to shift back and forth from pure eloquence to soaring sequences to simple description . . . But he can follow this soon with passages that are pure Baldwin, that have a gorgeous, fearless sound, tempered by dark knowledge and pain, that make clear that Baldwin was ready to become the greatest American prose stylist of his generation.”
—from the new Introduction by Colm Tóibín