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Welcome to Braggsville

by T Geronimo Johnson

Unceasing wordplay deftly probes the thorny issues of identity and American racial conflict with perfectly pitched dark satire and morbid comedy. The shockingly bizarre story may be disturbing but the hypersensitive send-up of academia will also amuse. This misbegotten tale, full of irony and stray cultural references, is awesome in its unpredictable linguistic acrobatics.

Extract

No one died in Braggsville unexpectedly. Not because of a joke. Unless it was a sick joke on Louis’s part. Daron’d heard the deputy, heard his father, heard the coroner, but Daron knew it was a mistake – certainly – until his father turned so that he was between Daron and Charlie and the door, turned with a certain determination, as if to shield them, turned with the resolution of the sentenced, faced Daron and Charlie, palmed their necks, squeezed once, swallowed, nodded as if he had rehearsed this speech, as if he knew beforehand what to expect, and Daron rolled his shoulder back and pulled away from his father, away from the unwelcome awareness that his father had rehearsed this speech, performed this speech in Iraq, oh how many times, Daron didn’t know, but often enough to have an expression on his face that Daron had never before seen but knew with certainty meant this is no mistake, that meant, Son, your friend is dead.

Parallels

The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Dirt Road by James Kelman
 

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