KU Reading Group - February

The session will take place virtually on MS Teams, and the link will be circulated in advance. 

On Thursday 29th February 2024, 5-6pm, we will be discussing Caleb Azumah Nelson’s ‘Open Water’. The debut award-winning novel focuses on the experiences of two young people in love amid the hustle and bustle of Southeast London. At the start of the novel the two protagonists, both Artists and both Black British, share a moment of connection that is fleeting and, in theory, should be insignificant. But, in ‘Open Water’, this moment of connection is not only represented as powerful, but it also frames the remainder of the narrative and the experiences of the protagonists, both of whom remain unnamed for the duration of the novel. 

He is a photographer, and she is a dancer, and they are struggling with their experiences of living in a city that both praises and judges them for what they are, rather than who and what they can do. As a result, they each find themselves trying to find their place and identity as Black British artists in London. Art, identity, and racial and ethnic identity are also some of the main themes underlying their relationship in this vivid poetic tale, where each moment is described using intimate feelings as the building blocks that create an intoxicating and mesmerising fictional world for the author to draw the reader into. As a result, ‘Open Water’ is almost an introspective exercise, as the author’s keen observations shape the characters’ experiences by creating a thought-provoking narrative that presents London as both the setting and as an independent character with the ability to affect lives and relationships simultaneously. 

Nelson’s novel reaches out from within, with its emotional depth navigating the ups and downs of love, beginning with the first hint of a spark all the way to the dread of loss. As a result, ‘Open Water’ tells a story that portrays vulnerability and creativity as intertwined concepts, trying to show the reader how inevitable and necessary it is for the author to feel as he wrote and to write as he felt. Written in the second person, ‘Open Water’ speaks directly to the reader; to us, collectively and individually. The novel also asks us about our own feelings; what we feel, and how we feel. It also asks us to take a step back and consider why; why do we feel? 

‘Open Water’ give us an opportunity to read a contemporary and very original love story, which steps away from the tradition of a Valentine’s-Day romance to bring us a novel raw with emotion and feeling and that leaves us questioning our own understanding of love, connection, and identity. Please join us to share your thoughts, ideas, and opinions about ‘Open Water’ at our next virtual reading group session on Thursday 29th February 2024, 5-6pm. To take part in our February reading group session, please contact Karen on K.Lipsedge@Kingston.ac.uk

The skills you develop by taking part in this activity can be used to build your Kingston Award reflections on Career Zone.  Find out more by watching  our Kingston Award video, visiting our Kingston Award webpages or getting in touch with us.