Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

Giovanni's Room

James Baldwin

fiction Classics LGBTQIA+
reflective sad medium-paced

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Baldwin's haunting and controversial second novel is his most sustained treatment of sexuality, and a classic of gay literature. In a 1950s Paris swarming with expatriates and characterized by dangerous liaisons and hidden violence, an American finds himself unable to repress his impulses, despite his determination to live the conventional life he envisions for himself. After meeting and proposing to a young woman, he falls into a lengthy affair with an Italian bartender and is confounded and tortured by his sexual identity as he oscillates between the two.

Examining the mystery of love and passion in an intensely imagined narrative, Baldwin creates a moving and complex story of death and desire that is revelatory in its insight.

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summary of 1030 ratings (see reviews)

Content warnings

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Violence (1 reviewer), Homophobia (1 reviewer), Alcoholism (1 reviewer), Toxic relationship (1 reviewer), Misogyny (1 reviewer), Addiction (1 reviewer), Sexism (1 reviewer), Infidelity (1 reviewer), Physical abuse (1 reviewer), Suicide (1 reviewer), Death (1 reviewer), and Emotional abuse (1 reviewer)


Suicide (1 reviewer)


sad 82%
emotional 78%
reflective 63%
dark 43%
challenging 23%
tense 17%
funny 2%
hopeful 2%
inspiring 2%
informative 1%
mysterious 1%
relaxing 1%


medium 60%
slow 32%
fast 6%

Strong character development?

It's complicated: 50% | Yes: 34% | No: 14%

Loveable characters?

It's complicated: 48% | No: 30% | Yes: 20%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 50% | No: 29% | It's complicated: 16% | N/A: 2%

Flaws of characters centre-stage?

Yes: 93% | It's complicated: 3% | No: 2%

Average rating


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