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Caleb Azumah Nelson Clinches Dylan Thomas Prize with “Small Worlds”

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Ghanaian British author Caleb Azumah Nelson is the winner of the 2024 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize for his novel “Small Worlds.” At a ceremony held yesterday, May 16th, in Swansea, in the UK, Caleb was awarded the £20,000 global accolade – which celebrates exceptional literary talent aged 39 or under.

Described as ‘anthemic’ by this year’s judging panel, “Small Worlds” tells an intimate father-son story set between South London and Ghana over the course of three summers. It follows Stephen, a first-generation Londoner with Ghanaian immigrant parents. Facing pressure to follow a traditional path of university and independence, Stephen chooses to pursue his passion for music, a decision that fractures his world and family in unexpected ways.

This win marks a significant moment for Nelson, solidifying his status as a rising star in literary fiction. “Small Worlds” is his second novel, following the critically acclaimed “Open Water,” which was shortlisted for the same prize in 2022.

The 2024 shortlist included other titles like “A Spell of Good Things” by Ayòbámi Adébáyò, “The Glutton” by A. K. Blakemore, “Bright Fear” by Mary Jean Chan, “Local Fires” by Joshua Jones and “Biography of X” by Catherine Lacey.

In his acceptance speech, Caleb expressed his gratitude: “I’m deeply grateful to be acknowledged for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize. I want to thank my editor – Isabel Wall – who guided me not just as a writer but as a person. My agent – Seren Adams – who changed my life, and is not just my agent, but family. My mum, dad, brother and sister – this is for them – and my partner, who shows me what is love. And to the other shortlisted authors – I’m grateful to be on a list with you and your astounding work.”

With this, Caleb joins a prestigious list of Dylan Thomas Prize winners, including Raven Leilani, Bryan Washington, Guy Gunaratne, Kayo Chingonyi, Fiona McFarlane, Max Porter and last year’s winner Arinze Ifeakandu.


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