Cover image for Welcome to Braggsville : a novel
Title:
Welcome to Braggsville : a novel
Author:
Johnson, T. Geronimo (Tyrone Geronimo)
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2015]
Physical Description:
354 pages ; 24 cm
Summary:
"From the PEN/Faulkner finalist and critically acclaimed author of Hold it 'Til it Hurts comes a dark and socially provocative southern-fried comedy about four liberal UC Berkeley students who stage a mock lynching during a Civil War reenactment--a fierce, funny, tragic work from a bold new writer"--
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780062302120

9780062302137
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2015 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2015 BY THE WASHINGTON POST, TIME, MEN'S JOURNAL, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, KANSAS CITY STAR, BROOKLYN MAGAZINE, NPR, HUFFINGTON POST, THE DAILY BEAST, AND BUZZFEED

WINNER OF THE 2015 ERNEST J. GAINES AWARD FOR LITERARY EXCELLENCE

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2016 ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN FICTION

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

From the PEN/Faulkner finalist and critically acclaimed author of Hold It 'Til It Hurts comes a dark and socially provocative Southern-fried comedy about four UC Berkeley students who stage a dramatic protest during a Civil War reenactment--a fierce, funny, tragic work from a bold new writer.

Welcome to Braggsville. The City that Love Built in the Heart of Georgia. Population 712

Born and raised in the heart of old Dixie, D'aron Davenport finds himself in unfamiliar territory his freshman year at UC Berkeley. Two thousand miles and a world away from his childhood, he is a small-town fish floundering in the depths of a large, hyper-liberal pond. Caught between the prosaic values of his rural hometown and the intellectualized multicultural cosmopolitanism of Berzerkeley, the nineteen-year-old white kid is uncertain about his place until one disastrous party brings him three idiosyncratic best friends: Louis, a "kung-fu comedian" from California; Candice, an earnest do-gooder claiming Native roots from Iowa; and Charlie, an introspective inner-city black teen from Chicago. They dub themselves the "4 Little Indians."

But everything changes in the group's alternative history class, when D'aron lets slip that his hometown hosts an annual Civil War reenactment, recently rebranded "Patriot Days." His announcement is met with righteous indignation, and inspires Candice to suggest a "performative intervention" to protest the reenactment. Armed with youthful self-importance, makeshift slave costumes, righteous zeal, and their own misguided ideas about the South, the 4 Little Indians descend on Braggsville. Their journey through backwoods churches, backroom politics, Waffle Houses, and drunken family barbecues is uproarious to start, but will have devastating consequences.

With the keen wit of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and the deft argot of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, T. Geronimo Johnson has written an astonishing, razor-sharp satire. Using a panoply of styles and tones, from tragicomic to Southern Gothic, he skewers issues of class, race, intellectual and political chauvinism, Obamaism, social media, and much more.

A literary coming-of-age novel for a new generation, written with tremendous social insight and a unique, generous heart, Welcome to Braggsville reminds us of the promise and perils of youthful exuberance, while painting an indelible portrait of contemporary America.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In his second novel, after Hold It 'til It Hurts (2012), Johnson continues his unique inquiry into questions of race and class, this time with a satiric edge. Southerner D'aron Davenport is having a tough time adjusting in his freshman year at Berkeley (aka Berzerkeley). Then he falls in with fellow misfits Candace, a fresh-faced Iowan who claims Native American heritage; aspiring comic Louis; and black prep-school grad Charlie. When D'aron reveals in history class that his hometown holds an annual Civil War reenactment, his friends decide to stage a performative intervention as a form of protest. However, weighed down by their misconceptions about the South as well as their hyperliberal, overly intellectualized theories about race and history, the students find that their actions have tragic, unintended consequences. In exuberant prose, Johnson takes aim at a host of issues, gleefully satirizing political opportunists, social media, and cultural mores. If, at times, Johnson's ambition causes him to tackle too many subjects at once, this is nevertheless a provocative exploration of contemporary America that is likely to be a hit with adventurous readers.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

In his second novel, Johnson (Hold It 'Til It Hurts) delivers a funny and tragic coming-of-age story that spares no one its satirical eye. D'aron Little May Davenport, a misfit in his small Georgia town, enrolls at UC Berkeley to get as far away from home as he can. His new roommate, Louis Chang, is an irrepressible fellow completely at home in California, whose fearless determination to be a stand-up comedian offers a "refreshing antidote to the somber, tense mood sweeping campus." Soon they meet Candice, a pretty white Iowan with hair that "glowed like butter on burned toast," and Charlie, a black prep school kid, while they are all being scolded for supposed insensitivity at a dorm party. They quickly become close and call themselves the "4 Little Indians." When D'aron mentions that Braggsville has an annual Civil War reenactment in their American history class, Candice and Louis persuade the group to stage a "performative intervention" over spring break. This is D'aron's story, told from his perspective, but there's a secondary voice, an impish interloper, challenging D'aron and the reader to delve deeper, asking again and again, "Por qué?" Johnson's prose has a sketched-out and dreamlike quality, a private shorthand that adds to the feeling of intimacy, an apt trick when dealing with subject matter like race and class. This ambitious novel stumbles when it departs from its central story, which should be enough: young people clumsily wielding their new tools of critical theory to impress themselves and each other, without fully understanding the effects of their actions. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

When Braggsville, GA, resident Daron Davenport goes to college in Berkeley, CA, he might as well have gone to another country, so foreign does he feel. However, he's made to feel at home by some students he befriends at a party: Caucasian Candice, who claims Native American blood; Louis, a Malaysian comedian; and Charlie, a gay African American. Inspired by one of their classes, the friends decide to spend their spring break in Daron's hometown, where the annual reenactment of the Civil War will allow them to stage a "performative intervention"-meaning, in this case, a lynching. This scheme has "Bad Idea" written all over it, and the resulting melee reverberates for years to come. VERDICT Johnson's (Hold It 'Til It Hurts) observations about race are both piercing and witty, making this edgy novel so much more complex than a send-up of the South and liberal academe. Johnson is at his best when he's the most straightforward; chapters that take off in stream-of-consciousness Southern dialect unnecessarily confuse the story. But those with a love for linguistic romps will want to take on this literary dark comedy. [See Prepub Alert, 8/11/14.]-Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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