I Rated it:
James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, explores a young man’s confusion surrounding his sexuality in 1950s France. This book quickly grabbed my attention as it “began at the ending” so to speak. David is alone, his fiance has left him and is on her way back to America, and the as of yet mysterious Giovanni is soon to be executed. I can’t imagine that this wouldn’t be enough to quickly draw any readers attention. The events leading up to this tragic opening scene are revealed through a flash-back style narrative. David’s fiance, Hella, has gone on a trip to Spain. While she is away, David meets Giovanni, an openly gay man who works at a bar that he visits with his friend Jacques. David decides to move in with Giovanni, but being engaged to marry a women, refuses to acknowledge that he may be gay. A relationship forms between the two of them, but things quickly go down hill when Hella returns from her trip to Spain. The novel explores the complications that arise for all three members of the “love-triangle” and presents a “worst-case-scenario” outcome for all of the parties involved. I can imagine that this book was highly controversial when it was originally published in the 50’s. It is an interesting story that provides some pretty powerful messages about sexuality, relationships, and love. I feel that it’s probably a bit less relevant to today’s world, however, as views on homosexuality are quickly changing and becoming less of a taboo subject.