WELCOME TO BRAGGSVILLE
by T. Geronimo Johnson
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.
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Praise for Welcome to Braggsville:
“The most dazzling, most unsettling, most oh-my-God-listen-up novel you’ll read this year is called Welcome to Braggsville. . . . T. Geronimo Johnson, plays cultural criticism like it’s acid jazz. His shockingly funny story pricks every nerve of the American body politic . . . Welcome to Braggsville. It’s about time.”
—The Washington Post
“Both funny and frightful… Johnson deftly pokes dark fun at a wide swath of culture, high and low… But as 21st-century American culture crisscrosses with the nation's history, Johnson's story evokes more than satirical humor. A sense of conscience and moral purpose takes shape at the heart of the book.”
“Audacious, unpredictable, exuberant and even tragic, in the most classic meaning of the word . . . A heady mix of satire and hyperbole. At times, Welcome to Braggsville reads like a literary hybrid of David Foster Wallace and Colson Whitehead.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Southern Gothic meets West Coast political correctness with hilarious results in Johnson’s new satirical novel… An odyssey through Waffle Houses, evangelical churches and backyard barbecue’s ensues, with attitudes about everything from race to social media getting skewered.”
—New York Post
“Amusing…unpredictable. An ambitious book, and [Johnson] handles with aplomb the complexities of growing-up, with its cumbrous transitions. Despite the story’s dark turn, there’s humor in the wonder of oracular pronouncements.”
“A rollicking satire . . . Radical, hilarious, tragic, and all too relevant.”
“It’s the telling that sets this book apart. Madcap, satirical, sometimes profane and uncanny… T. Geronimo Johnson is both a relentless social critic and a compassionate bystander… Welcome to Braggsville is a deeply pleasurable read for the sheer wonder of Johnson’s prose, but a deeply disturbing read for the truth it reveals about us.”
“Welcome to Braggsville is a radical book in every sense of the word—thoroughgoing and extreme, ghastly and funny and gloriously provocative, a gauntlet thrown. And an inherent challenge to anyone who thinks they know the conventions of the American bildungsroman, or of a contemporary ‘race and identity’ novel. ‘Bezerkely and Braggsville were two worlds on opposite sides of the sun,’ explains D’aron/Daron, whose uneasy peregrinations between these two planets power this really shocking story. Its laugh-out-loud humor always underscores the pain of exile; the punchlines form an index of the sickening cost of D’aron’s journey from Georgia to Berkeley, with all the requisite betrayals, the tolls exacted in both landscapes as D’aron/Daron crosses borders and must amphibiously reconstitute himself in order to survive. Johnson’s prose is by turns scathing dark humor, 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, New York Times bestselling author of Swamplandia!
“Tyrone Geronimo Johnson is a fearless and driven young writer of dazzling gifts. A cosmopolitan of hick towns as well as university enclaves, savvy in many tongues—those of law, art and academia as well as of the ghetto and the city street, of country grocery stores and ruined churches lost in the kudzu, and of decent, hapless folks on both sides of the tracks—his books map American multi-culture as a poignant and twisted human comedy in which nobody comes out clean. His new book, Welcome to Braggsville, plunks four engaging but naïve young ideologues from Berkeley into the middle of the Civil War Reenactment of a small town in the contemporary South, with results that are surprising, heartbreaking, tragicomic and deeply disturbing.”
—Jaimy Gordon, National Book Award-winning author of Lord of Misrule
“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, bestselling author of This Dark Road to Mercy
“DeLilloesque for its orgiastic pop-culture roiling, Welcome to Braggsville deconstructs race, class, and gender, leaving the human heart wholly intact. This is a virtuoso performance by one of our strongest new voices.”
—Richard Katrovas, award-winning poet and author of Scorpio Rising
“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, award-winning author of A Partial History of Lost Causes
“Inventive, provocative, troubling, hilarious: it’s hard to sum up Welcome to Braggsville in any other way but to add the word “wildly” in front of each of these words. Above all, Welcome to Braggsville captures in language so hot it can turn stone to sand the many intersections of cultural misunderstanding, misplaced attempts at historical redress, and miscarried justice, that make up so much of the befuddled American psyche.”
—Robin Hemley, author of Do-Over!
“Contradiction is the lever to transcendence,” Simone Weil once said, and 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. Johnson is an exceptionally talented writer, and this novel is certain to gain him a large and appreciative audience."
—RON RASH, New York Times bestselling author of Serena
“Welcome to Braggsville is that rare book so highly charged with both comedy and tragedy, and so nimble in its storytelling, that it seems to understand the world of its characters down to the smallest particle. This is one of the most invigorating and least predictable novels of the year.”
—KEVIN BROCKMEIER, award-winning author of The Brief History of the Dead
"It happens suddenly that T. Geronimo Johnson’s characters make their voices known all around us like only the best writers will be able to do. D’aron to be found forever in morning light. The evidence you need that a reexamination of the past can be a prescient warning for all our future days is magnificently in your hands."
—CAConrad, author of ECODEVIANCE
“Welcome to Braggsville is a stylish satire about the worst that can happen once heterotopic spaces start to overlap: from college campus to Six Flags to Civil War reenactment. When four idealistic friends try to bring Berkeley activism back to Braggsville—a time warp of a small Southern town—progressive politics collide with the ‘it’s not even past’-ness of American history, and latent prejudices explode on every page. A painful, funny novel.”
—Bennett Sims, author of A Questionable Shape.
Praise for Hold it ‘Til It Hurts:
“[A] powerful literary debut . . . The depth, complexity and empathy within Johnson’s narrative explores issues great and small—race, color and class, the wounds of war suffered by individuals and by nations, the complications and obligations of brotherhood and familial love. Transcendent contemporary American literary fiction, a rich and passionate story rewarding enough to be read again.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Johnson tells both a love story and a quest story while unleashing pointed social critiques, all the while taking readers into the turmoil of an ex-soldier seeking to reconcile his own conflicting emotions about war, family, and race. An impressive debut from a writer to watch.”