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Welcome to Braggsville

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,301 ratings  ·  623 reviews
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 th
Hardcover, 354 pages
Published February 17th 2015 by William Morrow
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Average rating 3.25  · 
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Will Byrnes
WtB named to the Washington Post top ten list for 2015

…nothing was as it seemed
On learning that the southern member of their group hails from a place that stages an annual Civil War re-enactment, one with a heavy Confederate tilt, four UC Berkeley sophomores decide to engage in a bit of political theater and protest the event by staging a mock lynching. What could possibly go wrong?

A boy from the deep South who opts to pass on taking up shooting is likely to feel just a bit like an o
Dec 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: free-from-work
But we were being ironic when we posted those bumper stickers, protested Candice. Everyone knows we were joking.

Everyone who is our age, probably white, and a college student at a hella liberal school. Don't you get it? This never made any fucking sense to anyone but us, and there aren't as many of us as we fucking thought.

i wanted to love this book more than i did, and it's one of those situations where the parts i liked i really really liked, but the narrative gets a little muddy in places, bo
Ron Charles
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-favorites
The most dazzling, most unsettling, most oh-my-God-listen-up novel you’ll read this year is called “Welcome to Braggsville.” The 44-year-old author, T. Geronimo Johnson, plays cultural criticism like it’s acid jazz. His shockingly funny story pricks every nerve of the American body politic. Arriving smack dab in the middle of Black History Month — our shortest month, naturally — “Braggsville” lashes self-satisfied liberals in the academy and self-deluded Confederates in the attic. As we feign su ...more
Welcome to Braggsville is T. Geronimo Johnson's biting, loving, sparkling and spot-on satire of this US of A and especially matters of race, education, politics, regionalism and so many other "isms" (that we see before us on the news daily--a hyper reality now that has blossomed further since he wrote this book).

In the basic tale, D'aron Davenport (who will henceforth have to justify, explain and possibly change or defend the spelling of his name) makes the decision to apply to UCBerkeley in ord
May 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
“How strange and wonderful, he thought, it was to have friends.”

And the title of this review is a prime example that even a stinker of a book can have a good line written in it.
“Welcome to Braggsville”….if you read this review you can skip the book.
First off, this novel is all over the place stylistically. All. Over. In fact, at times the text is incomprehensible, literally. A question for any author, if your reader can’t understand you, are you just writing for your own ego? You are clearly no
From the blurb:
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 Berzerkel
Tom Mathews
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Although born and raised in New Orleans there is more Ferlinghetti than Faulkner in T. Geronimo Johnson's satirical novel, Welcome to Braggsville. Warning, this is not a book for readers who are used to being spoon-fed content and answers. There is plenty of content to be had but you will need to find the answers on your own.

The pace and style of the story changes almost by the minute, frenetic as a beat poet one page, measured and reflective the next. Much of it is reminiscent of all-night conv
Diane Barnes
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well. What to say about this book? Firstly, depending on the chapter I was reading, the rating fluctuated wildly between 2 and 5 stars. Some of it was brilliant, some of it incomprehensible to me. I soldiered on bravely, hoping that, like Faulkner, it would come together at the end. And for the most part, it did. One of the things that made this book a little difficult to read is that the author employs a lot of different writing styles from chapter to chapter, so I was constantly having to adju ...more
Reminicent of Invisible Man, D'Aron Davenport a white, Southern, liberal minded young man is on a voyage of discovery about himself, his friends, his school and his hometown. Packed with tremendous insight and searing commentary as well as generous amounts of humor, I thought this was brilliant! More thoughts to follow...

5 Stars

Listened to this on Audible. MacCleod Andrews was a fantastic narrator. My understanding is that the book is a complicated read (lack of punctuation, hard to figure out w
Feb 21, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2010s
I am so disappointed by how much I disliked this book because of how much I was looking forward to reading it. The first 30 or so pages are smart and funny, but the book becomes too clever and too obtuse for its own good. By the time I finished it, I was absolutely furious at what a miserable experience reading this book was.

Although the main characters are wooden and undeveloped, and the major plot twist is melodramatic, both of those narrative choices are effective in a satirical novel where
Dec 11, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
Why is it that when some writers create a novel, which they hope to be considered a 'literary' novel, they make them so difficult to read? In the mind of some authors the aim seems to be anything but communication, however valid the theme might be.

The first to go out the window is punctuation. Who needs those grammatical rules that have evolved over time to make the reading of whatever piece of writing intelligible to the reader. Johnson is obviously in a state of war against quotation marks as
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Welcome to Braggsville was such a challenging book for me, in both subject matter and style. Every time I thought I'd figured out who Johnson was satirizing—Confederate flag-waving Southerners, hyper-liberal yet clueless Berkeley professors, young and dangerously naïve narrator D'aron and his friends—I'd turn a page and he'd expose yet another group's flaws and foibles. If everyone is a “bad guy”—or at least complicit in some way—who are the good guys in this story? I wondered.

The answer I fina
Mar 06, 2015 rated it liked it
“It just didn’t work for me” is a polite euphemism I employee often to describe books I am acutely ambivalent about. Upon finishing Welcome to Braggsville however, that is the most apt expression for my feelings: despite T. Geronimo Johnson creating a smart, complicated, informed, trenchant, at times scorching, novel about race and identity, Welcome to Braggsville just didn’t work for me.

The problems arise, for me, from its nebulous narrative voice. While mostly third person, Johnson regularly u
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
A small cohort of Berkeley students descend on Braggsville to punk a Civil War re-enactment with a “performative intervention” as they stage a lynching. It goes horribly awry forcing a new perspective on the motives and actions of everyone involved.

Hand-wringing millennials versed in academic theory whipped into liberal indignation go suddenly quiet when things leave the abstract and get suddenly real. The latent racism (you’re soaking in it) that surrounds us making it difficult to see. Our mi
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Dude, just tell the story. There was such a strong story to tell here, lost in a bunch of wannabe artsy mumbo jumbo. Just tell the story.
Jason Pettus
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

At first I had a hard time understanding why T. Geronimo Johnson's recent second novel, Welcome to Braggsville, ended up as a surprise nominee this year for the prestigious National Book Award; I mean, sure, it's written in this showy language deliberately designed to call attention to itself, which is lik
Kirk Smith
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
The best way to present uncomfortable subject matter is to keep a hint of humor continuously close at hand. Nothing truly laughable or these serious and sensitive issues would become farcical. That is the beautiful balance T. Geronimo Johnson maintains through the entire book. I thoroughly appreciated the Berkeley perspective that lends exaggeration to our nationwide issues of race, individual rights, gender, class distinctions, and freedom of expression. Not really eye opening, but definitely ...more
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Half way through this book...maybe even a little further, I had this rated as a 5 star, OMG, what a great read. Then everything went off a cliff for me. Others have said it better than I could but this just tries way to hard to be "literary". ...more
Jessica Woodbury
What is Welcome to Braggsville? Take a book like The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, except trade New Jersey and the Dominican Republic for rural Georgia and Berkeley. Change the Hispanic nerdy teenage boy to a white nerdy teenage boy. Add race and regionalism and politics and all sorts of ruminations on friendship, loyalty, and whether you can ever go home again or if you actually want to and VOILA: Welcome to Braggsville.

Oscar Wao is a book I know many people love, and I want all those p
Dec 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
I noted this book on more than one list of "Best of 2015". Here is an extract from the first page: This is how the book actually begins.
"D'aron the Daring, Derring,Derring-do, stealing base, christened D'aron Little May Davenport, DD to Nana,initials smothered in Southern-fried kisses, dat Wigga D who like Jay Z aw-ite, who's down, Scots-Irish it is, D'aron because you're brave, says Dad, No, D'aron because your daddy's daddy was David and then there was mines who was named Aron, Doo-doo after
lark benobi
The writing is uniformly arresting and the story is wrenching and perfect until the end of ch. 16. After this high dramatic point, the novel remains very, very good. Only, I felt Johnson let go of the reins a little. For my taste he let style and introspection take precedence over story. I wanted more events to happen than did in the last half of the novel. I wanted there to be more consequences for what happened in the first half. I wanted to have the marvelous clash of cultures and ideologies ...more
I read this in 2014, but since it is a 2015 pub, I waited to review it so I can remember it in my "Books of 2015" lists. Because I thought it was fantastic.

Anything a person wants in a book is here. Great great language, humor, satire, ridiculous situations, a changing and often skewed perspective, to be kept guessing. What you think is going to be one thing consistently becomes something else. EVERYTHING works here - plot, language, characters, setting.

Not since Cloud Atlas have I read a book
Feb 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
"I liked it" yes, I loved it and I also just didn't "get" it. This author is smarter than me and I had trouble following his language. I feel like this is a very intelligent book about race and friendship and family and the South and age but it is in a different world and uses ideas, concepts and language that made me feel old and out of touch. It is an excellent book that I feel I should re-read because I might understand it the second time. I also feel it is an important book following the aft ...more
I received an arc copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley!

So much hype has centered around this novel (Washington Post, NYT, NPR, etc.) so was so excited to get approved for this one. Unfortunately, I only made it 11% in before I just couldn't take the stream-of-consciousness (aka gibberish) writing style anymore. Parts of it were ok and I am sure there are some gems in this one, but it wasn't for me. The characters didn't even speak to me. Moving o
Lauren Cecile
Challenging. Interesting story rife with socio-racial-economic issues. Writing style is hard to tackle.
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
My 8th book on the 2015 National Book Award for fiction and one that I think should have been a finalist. It is much better than at least one of the five finalist (which I've read). It is a challenging book, requiring close attention. I felt especially challenged because it falls in my least favorite type of book -- satire. And it satirizes a number of "institutions," including, but not limited to by any means, to liberal colleges (i.e., Berkley), the South, the press, social media, and special ...more
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Whew! This is certainly a challenging read, very non-traditional, flushing all conventions that we normally associate with novels. No neat narration, no quotations to easily delineate the speakers, no simple and easy settings. Well all of that, along with the story is what makes it a 4 star effort. Rhythm, that is what it takes to make this a winning read for you, when one writes in a style that is...challenging, it takes effort by the reader to to catch the beat of the writer and the novel will ...more
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
There are people who shouldn't read this book. If you believe that Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh write historically accurate books, don't read this one. If you feel secure in your own beliefs, because that's the way it's always been, and it's always worked just fine, thank you very much...don't read this book. Actually, you SHOULD read Welcome to Braggsville, but you probably won't like it. This book is highly provocative. I consider myself to be an open-minded liberal person, and I felt poked ...more
Mrs. Danvers
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Holy toledo. I needed that. I'm rendered speechless. Just... read it. ...more
Feb 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Every once in a while, an author attempts to make big statements about big ideas. To portray social subjects (racism, class, history, tradition, culture, etc.) in the confines of written words is no easy task. Often, any commentary becomes burdened by the mechanics of language. In his new novel, Welcome to Braggsville, author T. Geronimo Johnson attempts to tackle some of these topics.

As he begins his freshman year at UC Berkley, D'aron Davenport is clearly a fish out of water. Thousands of mile
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Born and raised in New Orleans, T. Geronimo Johnson received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his M.A. in Language, Literacy, and Culture from UC Berkeley. He has taught writing and held fellowships—including a Stegner Fellowship and an Iowa Arts Fellowship—at Arizona State University, the University of Iowa, UC Berkeley, Western Michigan University and Stanford. His first novel, Hold i ...more

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