Caleb Azumah Nelson. Photo/Esme Allman

Caleb Azumah Nelson’s Open Water won in the first novel category at the Costa Book Awards on January 4, 2022.

The Costa Book Awards are literary awards recognising English-language books by writers based in Britain and Ireland awarded since 1971. They were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2006 when Costa Coffee, then a subsidiary of Whitbread, took over sponsorship. Some of the previous winners have been Sara Collins, Giles Foden, Monique Roffey, and Zadie Smith.

The award categories are First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book – with one of the five winning books selected as the overall Costa Book of the year and each category judged separately by a panel of three judges per category.

There were four writers of African descent who made the shortlists announced on November 23 last year. From these, only Caleb Azumah Nelson win in the first novel category for his book Open Water (Viking). The category was judged by Dymphna Flynn, Audio producer and books journalist; Xiaolu Guo, Novelist, memoirist and filmmaker; Joe Hedinger, Bookseller, The Book Hive.

Caleb Azumah Nelson tweeted, “So pleased to say Open Water has won the Costa First Novel Prize! Beyond grateful and feeling truly blessed by all this book has done 💙🙏🏾 Massive congrats to all shortlisted writers and every category winner.”

For winning in his category, he wins a £5,000 cash prize and he is in the running for the Costa Book of the Year worth £30,000 prize to be revealed on February 1, 2022.