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Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson
Literary fiction

Welcome to Braggsville

by T. Geronimo Johnson

Quick take

_Whip smart and timely in its examination of racial and cultural tension, this novel examines the law of unintended consequences while maintaining a uniquely and hilariously light touch._

Why I love it

A hilarious, razor-sharp novel of contemporary social justice, _Welcome to Braggsville_ by T. Geronimo Johnson holds a mirror up to classic American stereotypes on both sides of the political spectrum and forces readers to examine themselves and their own biases. Whip smart and timely in its examination of racial and cultural tension, this novel examines the law of unintended consequences while maintaining a uniquely and hilariously light touch. D'aron Davenport is a "Really Nice Guy" from Braggsville, GA (population 712). Looking for experiences beyond his rural, Southern hometown, D'aron heads off to college at ultra-liberal UC Berkeley, where the quirky personalities he encounters ensures he gets more "experience" than he bargained for. When D'aron's strident new friends learn of the yearly Civil War reenactment that is staged in his hometown, they see it as a perfect opportunity to stage a "performative intervention," a sort of performance protest, to express their indignation at what they consider an archaic and offensive event. Fueled by a mission of social justice, they travel to Braggsville over spring break, their paths lit by their shining naiveté. Under the thrall of the group and the Berkeley bubble, even D'aron is blind to the chance that their interruption might be unwelcome. As their trip descends into catastrophe, with life altering consequences, the group is confronted by their collectively idealistic point of view, reflected in the face of well-meaning (if not ignorant) citizens. Johnson's satire shines a light on the absurdity and extremism of both the politically over-correct and the culturally oblivious characters that populate the real world, and in doing so, urges both sides to embrace rationality and empathy instead. Employing innovative and exciting prose, Johnson creates a narrative voice and a tone that will have you cheering, thankful that there still exists such fresh new ways to form sentences and express ideas. The book is unrelentingly smart and funny, even when the story turns tragic. It's a much-needed look at prejudices of all kinds and no one escapes the burn under its magnifying glass.
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March 2015