James Baldwin Reading from Giovanni's Room
James Baldwin

Book cover image

Narrated By: James Baldwin

Duration: 16 minutes

What to expect

Giovanni's Room, Baldwin's second novel, deals frankly with homosexuality in a manner daring for its time. It depicts a white American struggling to accept his homoerotic desires. David, the protagonist, like Baldwin himself, feels alienated from his native country and moves to Paris in search of a freer life. In the passage Baldwin reads on this recording, David recalls a childhood sexual encounter with another boy—an encounter that left him deeply upset and ambivalent about his manhood.

Genre

Classic fiction, Fiction: general and literary, Fiction: general and literary, Fiction: general and literary

Listen to a sample

“[Baldwin] is thought-provoking, tantalizing, irritating, abusing,  and amusing. And he uses words as the sea uses waves, to flow and beat, advance and retreat, rise, and take a bow in disappearing…the thought becomes poetry and the poetry illuminates thought.”

Langston Hughes

“If Van Gogh was our nineteenth-century artist-saint, James Baldwin is our twentieth-century one.”

Michael Ondaatje, New York Times bestselling author

“[Baldwin] has become one of the few writers of our time.”

Norman Mailer, New York Times bestselling author

“A young American involved with both a woman and a man…Baldwin writes of these matters with unusual candor and yet with such dignity and intensity.”

New York Times

“Exciting…a book that belongs in the top rank of fiction.”

Atlantic

“Mr. Baldwin has taken a very special theme and treated it with great artistry and restraint.”