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.
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 of Welcome to Braggsville
‘A radical book in every sense of the word — thoroughgoing and extreme, ghastly and funny and gloriously provocative, a gauntlet thrown … Its laugh-out-loud humour always underscores the pain of exile … Johnson’s prose is by turns scathing dark humour, soaring lyricism, and a quietly devastating analysis of every species of injustice. The result is a kind of mind-melting poetry — a linguistic electroconvulsive therapy for the reader. This book will wake you up! “Welcome to Braggsville” toggles brilliantly between tragedy and comedy and never lets the reader off the hook’ Karen Russell, author of “Swamplandia!”
‘Transcendence is what Geronimo Johnson achieves in this remarkable novel. Every racial assumption is both acknowledged and challenged in ways at times hilarious, at other times poignant. ‘Welcome to Braggsville’ is ambitious, wise, and brave.’ Ron Rash, bestselling author of ‘Serena’, finalist for the PEN/Faulkner
‘Geronimo Johnson is a fearless and driven young writer of dazzling gifts. His books mapAmerican multiculture as a poignant and twisted human comedy in which nobody comes outclean. . . . surprising, heartbreaking, tragicomic, and deeply disturbing.’ Jaimy Gordon, author of “Lord of Misrule”
‘Geronimo Johnson’s powerful second novel combines the intellectual urgency of a satire with the emotional resonance of a tragedy. “Welcome to Braggsville” is as smart as it is subversive, and as bleakly hilarious as it is deeply necessary’ Jennifer duBois, author of “A Partial History of Lost Causes”
‘Combines Ben Fountain’s steely political eye, Junot Diaz’s pop-infused dogma, and Toni Morrison’s sense of social justice through historical reckoning. All that to say this: “Welcome to Braggsville” is the best and most powerful form of satire; it sets fire to your brain while expanding your heart. Big, shiny literary prizes were created for books like this one’ Wiley Cash, author of “This Dark Road to Mercy”