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Welcome to Braggsville (Paperback)
March '15 Indie Next List
“In Welcome to Braggsville, Johnson explores cultural, social, and regional diversity in a world increasingly driven by social media. His satirical and ironic style portrays a UC Berkeley -- 'Berzerkeley' -- student from Georgia who, along with his friends, goes back to his hometown to challenge an annual Southern tradition and inadvertently sets off a chain of events resulting in tragic consequences. Johnson's creative language play envelops the reader in the Deep South with the impact of a razor-sharp Lynyrd Skynyrd riff.”
— Jann Griffiths, Booksmart, Morgan Hill, CA
Organic, plucky, smart . . . the funniest sendup of identity politics, the academy and white racial anxiety to hit the scene in years. New York Times Book Review
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. 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 from Iowa claiming Native roots; 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 at first but has devastating consequences.
A literary coming-of-age novel for a new generation, Welcome to Braggsville reminds us of the promise and perils of youthful exuberance, while painting an indelible portrait of contemporary America.
Audacious, unpredictable, exuberant . . . reads like a literary hybrid of David Foster Wallace and Colson Whitehead. David Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Review.