The Hum of Concrete presents a series of short stories that begin in isolation, and then grow into something broader and more complex. Although each of the individual “constellations” that make up this book stand on their own, and some have been previously published, it is only by reading them together that the full cumulative meaning of the work is revealed . The stories take individual points of view, in youthful uncertainty, and then begin to bisect, grow, and develop along with the characters, settings, and situations. All of the stories are set in or around the Swedish town of Malmö, a place portrayed with the vividness of memory and an intensity of transformation that usually only found in human characterisation.
There are five key characters that bisect and grow through the book. They are Bodil, Nassrin, Susanna, Estella, and Rhyme. Their stories are organised into sets grouped by senses–Feeling Malmö, Hearing Malmö, Smelling Malmö, Tasting Malmö, Seeing Malmö and a final piece on Knowing Malmö. Most of these sets are made up of three stories, each taking a specific character's point of view, with the exception of Smelling Malmö, which has four, and Knowing Malmö, which stands on its own. Throughout the book, and before each chapter are delicate drawings and maps of the locations provided by illustrator Allan Taylor.
There is an intense intimacy in Anna Solding’s writing style. The words come as a confession: a kind of whispered tale that draws the reader in and invites collusion. The characters progress naturally through time, beginning with key moments of youth and awakening perception, and moving through coupling, and later parenthood. The stories begin with some form of painful discovery, and progress through epiphany that leads to emotional growth. Throughout the book the language remains rich and poetic, picking up on the sensual themes of each section: "There is an edible silence. Nassrin takes a bite and savours the fruity flavour of vindication." (33)
Though the stories are rooted in the personal, everyday details of these characters' lives, the plot encompasses the universal and somewhat political issues the characters have to deal with, including Intersex, homosexuality, awakening sexuality, unwed young mothers, post-natal depression, mature love, homelessness, poverty, prostitution, childbirth, aging, fear and loss. The stories are delivered simply, in quirky, easy to read prose that never loses its magical, edge: the vivid impression and wonder of observation: