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Caleb Azumah Nelson talks to Alex Clark

Small Worlds

Hay Festival 2023, 

The British-Ghanaian writer and photographer Caleb Azumah Nelson introduces us to Stephen, whose problems are forgotten in music and dance. Dancing at church, with his parents and brother, the shimmer of Black hands raised in praise; he might have lost his faith, but he does believe in rhythm. Dancing with his band, making music that speaks to the hardships and the joys of their lives. 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. 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? Set over the course of three summers in Stephen's life, from London to Ghana and back again, Small Worlds is an expansive novel about the worlds we build for ourselves, the worlds we live, dance and love within. Nelson’s first novel, Open Water, won the Costa Book Award for First Novel and Debut Novel of the Year British Book Award. Join him as he talks to journalist and editor Alex Clark about creating the novel’s music-filled world.

Caleb Azumah Nelson talks to Alex Clark