May 2021

Open Water

by Caleb Azumah Nelson

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Why We Chose It

Caleb Azumah Nelson’s lyrical debut explores the depths of romantic love through a relationship between two best friends and young Black artists who meet in a London pub. You will fall for them quickly.

Read the first chapter now (the chapters are short and stunning and the whole book clocks in at a remarkable 160 pages). Pick up a copy from your local bookshop or see more online booksellers here.

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

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WATCH THE CHAT

Our wellness director interviews Caleb Azumah Nelson—and he answers questions from our readers in real time.

About the Author

Caleb Azumah Nelson is a British-Ghanaian writer and photographer living in South East London. His writing has been published in The White Review and Litro. He was a finalist for the BBC National Short Story Award and his photography won the Palm People’s Choice Award. Open Water is his first novel.

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A Q&A with CALEB AZUMAH NELSON

How did the idea for Open Water come to you?

In the lead-up to writing Open Water, I was working on some nonfiction essays, all of which were told in the second person, like the book. I was delving into areas of interest: photography, music, film…love, expression, and freedom. These were my guiding points going into writing this narrative. I was writing about love, about this young Black couple who meet and have this instant connection and find this tested through circumstance and distance. But I was also writing about all the things I love, too, all these forms of Black expression that can act as sites of freedom.

Tell us about your favorite library in London.

The British Library in North London! I wrote most of Open Water there. It’s a beautiful building and became the site of many break and lunchtime wanders, where I’d let my thoughts roam as I walked around this gorgeous space. I got into a nice routine while writing: When I arrived in the morning, I would check out five or six books and spend my first hour reading and poring over images. Then I would get into writing, and the study and research informed my work. I’m grateful it happened that way.

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