Caleb Azumah Nelson wins Dylan Thomas Prize 2024

Caleb Azumah Nelson wins Dylan Thomas Prize 2024

Caleb Azumah Nelson’s novel Small Worlds was declared the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2024 winner on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

Dylan Thomas was a Welsh poet and writer who became widely popular in his lifetime and remained so after his premature death at 39. The International Dylan Thomas Prize aimed at encouraging raw creative talent worldwide was set up by Swansea University in his honour in 2006. The £20,000 Prize is awarded annually to the best published or produced literary work in English, written by an author aged 39 or under. Some of the previous winners include Fiona McFarlane, Patricia Lockwood, Kayo Chingonyi (2018), Raven Leilani, (2021), and Arinze Ifeakandu (2023).

The jury for 2024 is chaired by author and co-founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival Namita Gokhale, alongside prize-winning Welsh author and lecturer in Creative Writing at Swansea University, Jon Gower, winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2022 and Assistant Professor at Trinity College Dublin, Seán Hewitt, former BBC Gulf Correspondent and author of Telling Tales: An Oral History of Dubai, Julia Wheeler, and interdisciplinary artist and author of Keeping the House, longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize in 2022, Tice Cin.

The longlist was announced on Thursday, January 25 before the shortlist was made public on March 21. The winner, Small Worlds, Caleb Azumah Nelson, Viking, Penguin Random House UK, UK/Ghana, was revealed at a ceremony in Swansea on Thursday, May 16. This is following International Dylan Thomas Day on Tuesday, May 14.

Namita Gokhale, Chair of 2024 Judges, said on behalf of the panel: “Amid a hugely impressive shortlist that showcased a breadth of genres and exciting new voices, we were unanimous in our praise for this viscerally moving, heartfelt novel. There is a musicality to Caleb Azumah Nelson’s writing, in a book equally designed to be read quietly and listened aloud. Images and ideas recur to beautiful effect, lending the symphonic nature of Small Worlds an anthemic quality, where the reader feels swept away by deeply realised characters as they traverse between Ghana and South London, trying to find some semblance of a home. Emotionally challenging yet exceptionally healing, Small Worlds feels like a balm: honest as it is about the riches and the immense difficulties of living away from your culture.”

Caleb Azumah Nelson said on Instagram afterward, “Delighted – and still a little shocked! – to have won the @dylanthomasprize 2024 💙huge, huge congrats to the other shortlisted writers, what a wonderful cohort to be a part of. Big thank you to my team @vikingbooksuk @groveatlantic and to my editors @isabel_amw @katie_raissian for always guiding my work and bringing the best out of me, always. @serenadams – thank you, thank you for always being my side. And to my small world: my friends, my wonderful family and partner, this book is for you, all the people who make me, me, and I’m beyond grateful for you all. Big big love to everyone who’s picked up a copy or sold a copy or had a hand in what’s been a wild few years. It never fails to astound me that something I wrote in private could make it’s way out into the world in such a big way, I’m always grateful 💙🌎”

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