Baldwin100-Reads Celebrates American author James Baldwin through a Community Exploration of Baldwin's Work

The January-March 2024 Selections

by Esther Goldberg

Baldwin100-Reads Celebrates American author James Baldwin through a Community Exploration of Baldwin's Work

The Alan Cheuse International Center kicks off it's centennial celebration of famed novelist, essayist, and famed orator James Baldwin with Baldwin100-Reads: an initiative seeking to unite readers across the DC-MD-VA region with a common book list of Baldwin’s work. The Cheuse Center hopes Baldwin100-Reads will allow readers to connect with these influential texts and have a shared conversational experience, honoring and commemorating a voice and message that has transcended across generations. 

From January to March, Baldwin100- Reads will focus on two texts: the essay Nothing Personal and novel Giovanni’s Room. Published in 1964, Nothing Personal offers an exploration of the American condition at the height of the civil rights movement, presenting his revelatory thoughts on social isolation, race, and police brutality. Penguin Random House distinguishes this captivating text as “both a eulogy and a declaration of will,” and “a call to action, and an appeal to love and to life.” 

Giovanni’s Room, published in 1956, is a narrative which focuses on the events in the life of an American man named David living in 1950’s Paris, and his feelings and frustrations with his relationships with other men in his life; this conflict specifically concerns a man named Giovanni, who sparks for David a gripping battle between desire and conventional morality. Pronounced “a book that belongs in the top rank of fiction" by The Atlantic, Giovanni’s Room brilliantly depicts complex issues such as masculinity, sexuality, and the intricacies of the human heart. 

Baldwin100- Reads will feature new texts every month until February 2025. Those who wish to read alongside Baldwin100-Reads can access the reading list through George Mason University’s Library Resources here. The books are also available at Fairfax County Public Library and the Arlington Public Library.

The Baldwin100 is a community partnership with Busboys and Poets, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, the City of Fairfax, Fairfax County Public Library, Arlington Public Library, Maryland Humanities, and the Library of Congress Center for the Book. Within Mason, partners include Mason Exhibitions, University Libraries, the School of Theater, the School of Art, the Department of English, and the African and African American Studies Program.  

Founded in memory of Mason professor and writer Alan Cheuse and part of Mason’s Watershed Lit, the Cheuse Center is a global community of writers, translators, and readers. Since its founding in 2016, the center has featured more than 180 international writers and has sent 23 Mason graduate students abroad to research their writing projects.

For updates on additional programming subscribe to the center’s newsletter at cheusecenter.gmu.edu/subscribe or visit the website.