Caleb Azumah Nelson: Diving into Black Art
Every so often, a novel arrives that perfectly captures the feeling of a time: of summer, of political turmoil, youth, the tentativeness of falling in love. Open Water is one such book, the debut novel from Caleb Azumah Nelson, a writer and photographer who was named by the Observer as one of the 10 Best Debut Novelists of 2021. Inspired by South East London – where Nelson grew up, and where the novel is set – Open Water is an exploration of culture, masculinity, art and identity and a celebration of Black art.
Drawing on the words, imagery and music of writers and artists including Zadie Smith, Teju Cole, James Baldwin and Barry Jenkins, Nelson’s expansive story about two friends finding and losing each other in love against the backdrop of a politically turbulent time remind us that ‘it’s one thing to be looked at, and another to be seen.’
Join Nelson as part of our special series On Influence, as he discusses his work and the artists who inspire him.