Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson


Bookseller Review by Fleur: 

This book is everything! A perfectly told story of the beginnings of love between a young black couple, both artists, living in South East London. A deceptively slim novel that packs so much into its pages – leading the reader off to explore ideas and discover new music, films, photography, dance. It captivates and keeps a tight grip on your heart long beyond the turn of the final page. 

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‘A tender and touching love story, beautifully told’ Observer
10 Best Debut Novelists of 2021

‘Hands-down the best debut I’ve read in years’ The Times

‘A beautiful and powerful novel about the true and sometimes painful depths of love’ Candice Carty-Williams, bestselling author of QUEENIE

‘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

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.