WINNER OF THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2021
Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them.
Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence. At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body, to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it.
With gorgeous, soulful intensity, Caleb Azumah Nelson has written the most essential British debut of recent years.
‘An amazing debut novel. You should read this book. Let’s hear it for Caleb Azumah Nelson, also known as the future’ Benjamin Zephaniah
‘A short, poetic and intellectual meditation on art and a relationship between a young couple’ Bernardine Evaristo, author of GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER
‘A lyrical modern love story, brilliant on music and art, race and London life, I enjoyed it hugely’ David Nicholls, author of ONE DAY and SWEET SORROW
‘An unforgettable debut… it’s Sally Rooney meets Michaela Coel meets Teju Cole’ New York Times
‘A love song to Black art and thought’ Yaa Gyasi, bestselling author of HOMEGOING and TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM