Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
This book spoke to me on so many levels and considering it’s length this is truly an exceptional achievement. I kept on pausing to savour each word and look at my favourite painting (thrilled I can finally use it for #bookstagram) which encapsulates for me that feeling of total separation from the world when you are in the throes of new love, as if on Open Water.
This may be a story of romance, the tenderness and excitement of pure attraction leaps of the page, but this is contrasted with the very visceral experiences of racism faced by the nameless protagonist. The fear he walks with every day was nothing short of heartbreaking. However there is so much joy in this book, the celebratory references to music, art, literature and culture, their power in giving strength at challenging times. This is deft, lyrical writing that provides a building tension, I was genuinely invested in the developing relationship. The depiction of racism makes this book so important, giving a poetic voice to the continuing discrimination and inevitable cycle of violence. Thank you so much @alexiathomaidis and @vikingbooksuk for our copy, we will treasure it.
‘It‘s one thing to be looked at and another to be seen.’ Open Water is the stunning debut by @caleb_anelson. Lauded by so many, the praise is hugely deserved and this relatively slim novel will grab you, shake you and open your eyes in a way you may not have anticipated. Charting the relationship between a young black man and woman in London — they meet through her boyfriend, become close friends themselves and then, their relationship develops further — their connection is palpable and beautiful. There is an intensity here that you can almost taste but, like the greatest of love stories, this has many strands and is intertwined with race and also violence — and the realities of life in London today. So much of this felt so utterly real, it would be impossible not to absorb it and, ultimately, learn from it.