by Anna Solding
The Hum of Concrete is an evocative novel about a city and its people. Set in the multicultural city of Malmö, Sweden, The Hum of Concrete is the story of five people whose lives intersect.
Consumed with despair, Palestinian Nassrin walks into the ocean with her baby in her arms. Susanna dares to take a stand against gay-bashers. By starlight, Bodil sees the city from the roof of a church. Estella meets her tough little half-brother for the first time. Lonely Rhyme seeks shelter in a tree full of fairy lights. And all round them, the hum of concrete.
With photographic precision, Anna Solding captures both light and shadow found in the fleeting beauty of everyday life. From the silences between people and the ordinariness of places, she conjures narrative jewels of intelligence and pleasure.
The Hum of Concrete was shortlisted for the 2010 Adelaide Festival Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript. The Judges’ statement:
Anna Solding has created a quirky panoply of characters, wielding admirable authorial control, adopting several voices and personae, and keeping her narrative humming with flair and confidence. Children, adults, hermaphrodites, individuals from a range of ethnic backgrounds, the novel is set in Sweden and is on one level a hymn to that country and Malmö in particular. ‘You pass an entourage dressed up as Pippi Longstocking, proclaiming over beers held high to have won their heat in the dragon boat competition. You can’t help but laugh. These middle-aged men and women paddling for their workplace team make a mockery of the myth about reserved Swedes.’ This author has arrived fully-fledged and ready to go.
Further praise for The Hum of Concrete:
‘Few novels invite you in as irresistibly as this one, and few give you as exhilarating and surprising a ride. Anna Solding writes with such tenderness, intelligence and invention. A novel to love and explore with and return to, and a most compelling and intriguing new voice in Australian writing.’
Peter Bishop, Varuna – The Writers’ House
‘The characters who figure in the interwoven stories that make up The Hum of Concrete are treated with heartwarming tenderness. The narration is unobtrusively and effectively managed, the Swedish settings vividly realized.’
Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee
‘Anna Solding’s spare and sensual prose strikingly details the liminal existences of five women living in one of Sweden’s most diverse cities. Malmö offers up its secrets, its sufferings and joys in the lives of those we do not often understand. Whether black, brown or white, they live on the fringes of municipal flats, hospitals and the sea, dreaming of elsewhere. This discontinuous narrative weaves a magical intimacy into the cycle of birth, sex and death in the city, and it does not look away from seeing hope.’
Brian Castro, author of The Bath Fugues
‘A modern tapestry of stories; skillfully interwoven, wide ranging and often moving.’
Eva Hornung – author of Dog Boy