Caleb Azumah Nelson - "Open Water" - Nadia Owusu

Wednesday, April 14, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Caleb Azumah Nelson

Open Water is tender poetry, a love song to Black art and thought, an exploration of intimacy and vulnerability between two young artists learning to be soft with each other in a world that hardens against Black people.”—Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing

Caleb Azumah Nelson will discuss Open Water. He will be joined in conversation by Nadia Owusu.

Presented in partnership with Grove Atlantic


About the book: In a crowded London pub, two young people meet. 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—and both are trying to make their mark in a world 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, and over the course of a year they find their relationship tested by forces beyond their control.Narrated with deep intimacy, Open Water is at once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity that 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, and blistering emotional intelligence, Caleb Azumah Nelson gives a profoundly sensitive portrait of romantic love in all its feverish waves and comforting beauty. This is one of the most essential debut novels of recent years, heralding the arrival of a stellar and prodigious young talent.

About the author: Caleb Azumah Nelson is a British-Ghanian writer and photographer living in South East London. His writing has been published in Litro, and he was recently shortlisted for the BBC Short Story Award and the Palm Photo Prize and won the People’s Choice prize. Open Water is his first novel.

About the interlocutor: Nadia Owusu is a Ghanaian and Armenian-American writer and urbanist. Her first book, Aftershocks, A Memoir, topped many most-anticipated lists, including The New York Times, The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, and TIME. Nadia is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award. Her lyric essay chapbook, So Devilish a Fire, won the Atlas Review chapbook contest. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The New York Times, The Lily, Orion, Granta, The Literary Review, The Paris Review Daily, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Electric Literature, Catapult, Bon Appétit, Epiphany and others. By day, Nadia is the Director of Storytelling at Frontline Solutions, a Black-owned consulting firm that helps social-change organizations to define goals, execute plans, and evaluate impact. She is a graduate of Pace University (BA) and Hunter College (MS). She earned her MFA in creative nonfiction at the Mountainview low-residency program where she now teaches. She lives in Brooklyn.

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