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.
Caleb Azumah Nelson is a 27-year-old British-Ghanaian writer and photographer living in South East London. His photography was shortlisted for the Palm Photo Prize and won the People’s Choice prize. His short story PRAY was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2020. OPEN WATER is his first novel and is currently longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2021.