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  • Published: 20 August 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241996041
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $22.99

Small Worlds

An exhilarating and expansive new novel about fathers and sons, faith and friendship from Caleb Azumah Nelson, the no.1 bestselling, award-winning author of Open Water

The one thing that can solve Stephen's problems is dancing. Dancing with his best friend Adeline, two-stepping around the living room, crooning and grooving, so close their heads might touch. Dancing alone, at home, to his father's records, uncovering parts of a man he has never truly known.

Stephen has only ever known himself in song. But what becomes of him when the music fades? When his father begins to speak of shame and sacrifice, when his home is no longer his own? How will he find space for himself: a place where he can feel beautiful, a place he might feel free?

Set over the course of three summers in Stephen's life, from London to Ghana and back again, Small Worlds is an exhilarating and expansive novel about the worlds we build for ourselves, the worlds we live, dance and love within.

  • Published: 20 August 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241996041
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Caleb Azumah Nelson

Caleb Azumah Nelson is a 27-year-old British-Ghanaian writer and photographer living in South East London. His photography has been shortlisted for the Palm Photo Prize and won the People's Choice prize. His short story, PRAY, was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2020. His first novel, OPEN WATER, was longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize. He was selected as a National Book Foundation '5 under 35' honoree by Brit Bennett in 2021.

Also by Caleb Azumah Nelson

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Praise for Small Worlds

If you haven't had a chance to read Caleb Azumah Nelson's debut, Open Water, about a gorgeous love affair in modern-day London, then please do; it'll keep you occupied until his new release is out on 11 May, which is about fathers and sons, the power of dance and how one man can create a life he loves

Stylist, Big Fiction for 2023

Small Worlds grabs you by the heart and holds tightly, revealing a story as beautiful and as lyrical as the words that adorn the pages.

Sofia Akel

Caleb Azumah Nelson's writing is touching, heartfelt, and musically rich

Diana Evans

Caleb Azumah Nelson's Open Water was a slim masterpiece. His second novel, Small Worlds is a similarly lapidary coming-of-age story set over three years in the life of an extraordinary young man.


SMALL WORLDS is a miracle of observation, of attention and attunement. Caleb Azumah Nelson writes prose that is unmatched in its musicality and sensitivity. A gorgeous, rhapsodic, wise novel


A gentle reflection on self-discovery

Vogue, 2023 Spring Highlights

In his beautiful new novel Nelson summons the sounds of Black Youth, love and discovery to the page. A celebration of the heart

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of CHAIN-GANG ALL-STARS and FRIDAY BLACK

Caleb Azumah Nelson's writing captures nostalgia-that most essential of sentiments-like no other. I was immersed, transported, and at the same time affirmed in the familiar. Gorgeous

Sareeta Domingo, author of IF I DON'T HAVE YOU

A wonderful, dexterous work. Caleb Azumah Nelson explores modes of blackness in ways that are enriching and invigorating


Both intimate and inviting, Azumah Nelson weaves not just worlds but exquisite universes with his words. SMALL WORLDS is a masterful exploration of love, masculinity, coming of age and community, and Azumah Nelson's dextrous, sublime pen brings it into dazzling life.

Bolu Babalola, author of LOVE IN COLOUR

A mesmerising Peckham love story


Nelson writes about closeness, with family, with lovers, with art, as careful, essential labour

Raven Leilani, author of Luster

An affecting meditation on the migrant experience


A book which is alert and enlivening, at once serious and a pleasure to read

Literary Review

Small Worlds is a Vermeer universe of a novel, of warmth, deep feeling, aching and gorgeousness. To read is to be hugged by a rich brown oak, ever stretching out. It is as charged as it is earthed. It is wonderful.

Inua Ellams

Small Worlds is an emotionally astute novel that cements this 29-year-old south London author as one of the UK's best.

New Statesman

It's a story about finding both one's identity and one's place in the world.

Art Review

moving, intimate, and sizzling hot

Sunday Times

Steeped in nostalgia, grief and heartbreak, yet somehow still hopeful, this is one of the best books I've read all year.

City AM

This story about rebuilding small worlds - places in which to feel beautiful and free - is itself a thing of beauty


Discover more

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