- Sex, Diaspora, and the New “Italian Novel”: James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and Bernard Malamud’s Pictures of Fidelman
- Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 71, Number 4, Winter 2015
- pp. 81-106
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Many Anglo-American novels set in Italy project stereotypical visions of Italian culture as an exotic foreign influence that changes the life of a repressed Anglo-American expatriate. In contrast, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and Bernard Malamud’s Pictures of Fidelman offer a more nuanced vision of Italian identity while exploring the linkages between diaspora and resistance to sexual heteronormativity. Both novels build on an Anglo-American literary tradition of linking Italianness to male homoeroticism, imagining Italian spaces as a liberating antidote to a heteronormative home culture. However, Baldwin and Malamud complicate the cultural encounters that invite social resistance: while Giovanni’s Room probes what occurs when the queer diasporic trajectories of a white American and an Italian intersect, Pictures of Fidelman imagines a Jewish American protagonist whose time in Italy functions as a form of double expatriation. In the process, a threedimensional vision of Italianness emerges, revising a problematic genre within Anglo-American literary history.