2023 Political Fiction Book prize finalist

Small Worlds

Caleb Azumah Nelson

Published by: Penguin Books

Dancing is the one thing that can solve Stephen’s problems.

At Church with his family, the shimmer of Black hands raised in praise. With his band, making music speaking not just to their hardships, but their joys. Grooving with his best friend, so close their heads might touch. Dancing alone to his father’s records, uncovering parts of a man he has never truly known. His youth, shame and sacrifice.

Stephen has only ever known himself in song. But what becomes of him when the music fades?

Set over the course of three summers, from South London to Ghana and back again, SMALL WORLDS is a novel about the worlds we build for ourselves. The worlds we live, dance and love within.

Caleb Azumah Nelson’s Small Worlds is a beautifully-written and joyous account of black British lives in the early 2010s. Set largely in Peckham and Ghana over the course of three summers, the protagonist Stephen navigates love, family and community. Among other things, Small Worlds is also a poignant account of a father and son relationship, and a paean to transformative powers of music and dance. Nelson is an abundantly talented photographer; this second novel by him confirms he is equally talented with words. "