Giovanni’s room

“People are full of surprises, even for themselves, if they are provoked enough.”

We thank one of our reading groups who first introduced us to the author and then to the book. The beauty of reading is right here, in the sharing of interests and continuous discovery. Our great miss having never read anything by James Baldwin before.

Intense and delicate like few other authors, with a writing born to remain over time and inside people’s souls. If someone were to tell you that they didn’t appreciate it, or didn’t appreciate this book, be wary of anyone who gave you that opinion.

David is a young New York boy who after World War II is sent by his father to Paris to see the world. In the old continent our protagonist discovers true love, that of fragile certainties and solid uncertainties. The total fear of totally abandoning yourself to the feeling, both so as not to be hurt and, in some cases, for fear of what the people around you will say.

David does not find love in his fiancée Hella, but in Giovanni, also finding his true sexual tendencies at the same time. This is why the book is often called a text on sexual love, but we prefer to call it a book about love and that’s it, because when you’re in love, the feelings in the bottom of your heart are the same in all people. We are surprised that what the author told is unfortunately still relevant today. With the definition of “immoral” or “wrong” a sexual inclination that is perfectly normal, and that everyone should live without feeling any shame.

Giovanni’s room is the space, within the great Paris, where feeling can manifest itself, oozing from the walls full of history, other loves, other memories, other Giovannis.

Baldwin’s pen is a gift to all of us, both for the style and for the images he manages to convey. Each page hides in a few lines, a vision of life or feelings that could not have been described in a better way.


James Baldwin, La stanza di Giovanni, Fandango, Roma, 2017

Original edition: Giovanni’s Room, Dial Press, New York, 1956

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