Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

giovanniI don’t feel like I can properly review this book. Not because it’s not relatable or anything; it is, even if you are not a gay man fighting with your sexuality in a community where being who you are is not acceptable. But mainly because the book is an absolute heartbreaker. I really didn’t know much about it, nobody recommended it to me and, apart from reading the short blurb on the back, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.

This is a story about a man, living in a time when being gay was a crime, who fights with everything he’s drawn to, wanting to push it aside and live the ‘normal’ life society expects him to have. Then one night he meets another man, another human being that he connects to, and this is basically where it all starts falling apart.

Maybe the vast sadness of the book and the beautiful way in which the whole story was told made it sink so deep while I was reading it. Maybe I just needed a story like that, one that makes you sympathize with the protagonist, feel sorry for him and hate him at the same time. But the love, the getting to know a human being you’re drawn to, the way this love develops and then falls into pieces; how love sometimes gives you wings that later turn into chains; how sometimes you chain your own mind and then project to everything around you…These moments are captured so well, and this is why I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough. To people without any experience with gay fiction I can say just go with this classic because it is a beautiful piece of literature.

The verdict:

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