Small Worlds by Caleb Anelson
The pressure was on. When your debut is a word of mouth bestseller, scooping award after award, people are going to have high expectations for whatever follows. I know I did. Somehow, @caleb_anelson has surpassed Open Water with Small Worlds, published last week.
When I finished this I sat for about ten minutes quietly contemplating the raw beauty of a book that transcends the written word. Initially, I found it repetitive and I wasn’t as invested, but by the end Small Worlds had me in a headlock.
Stephen is the child of Ghanaian parents, and music is the language of his soul, dancing the expression of his heart. Living in a close knit community in Peckham, we follow him and his brother Ray over the course of three summers as he is on the precipice of leaving school. There is so much to unpack here, so much that Nelson deftly touches upon with his poetic prose.
He explores the pressure on immigrant children, the bond & legacy of home, what gets lost in translation, racism, the profound role of music, what it means to be happy, grief, love, food & friendship. The small worlds we make for ourselves.
This book is an experience, it builds pace, but the change in perspective at the end was breathtakingly clever, giving you so much insight into a central figure. There is a more propulsive narrative, but the inimitable musicality of his words flourishes. I will read whatever this man writes. C