Quarantine Book Club: "Giovanni's Room"
Saturdays at 10am PST, June 27th - July 18th
- All tickets include access to four virtual meetings
In his 1956 masterpiece Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin imagines his way into a white man’s mind—specifically, a blond American coward. What he finds is white privilege, homophobia, narcissism, fear, and murderous levels of obliviousness.
Harrowing and suspenseful and set mostly in Paris, the novel was written after the author’s move to France to escape the racism of New York City.
David, the narrator of Giovanni’s Room, spends the novel torn between two lovers: an Italian bartender named Giovanni (“insolent and dark and leonine”) and a white woman named Hella (whom he’s supposed to marry). In Giovanni’s room, a tiny space where the two men have sex, life “seemed to be occurring beneath the sea.”
A landmark of queer literature and one of the most daring artistic gestures of the twentieth century, Giovanni’s Room is also an unflinching depiction of the dark sides of whiteness.
The book is fewer than 200 pages and we’ll read it together over four weeks. Buy a copy or check one out from the library. You do not need to read any of it by the time of our first meeting. You will be expected to read two chapters by our second meeting.