Set in an impoverished area of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the novel follows the Carters and their foster sons, Isaac and Miles. The two boys share a dark past, though neither of them are aware of it.
As the boys try to escape the grim reality of the violent streets―in different ways―Isaac through basketball, Miles though music―the novel shifts back and forth in time, in the process revealing the story of an entangled community plagued by trauma and death, trying to confront the ghosts of its past, and seize a better life.
PRAISE FOR THE CONCRETE
“Every few years, if we’re lucky, there comes along that rare novel that feels dictated from the very pulse of the times in which we live, the one that pulls us in and won’t let go, and when we’re finished, we feel the urgent need to spread the news about it far and wide and right away. Daniel Abbott’s The Concrete is that novel. Written in a street-wise yet deeply compassionate voice, this mesmerizing narrative takes us into the lives of men, women, and children who are trying to survive any way they can, fighting the demons of addiction and violence along the way, taking part in the “flesh game”, trying to love and be loved and do the right thing, even when they sometimes don’t. This is a heartbreakingly beautiful novel, an honest work of art, and it heralds the debut of a remarkable and important young American novelist.”
---Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog
“The Concrete, Daniel Abbott’s searing debut novel, marks the introduction of a fresh, exciting, and important voice to the American literary landscape. Filled with uncommon insights into the human heart, this gritty, brave, redemptive novel tells truths we all need to hear.”
---Connie May Fowler, author of Before Women Had Wings
“The Concrete grabbed me, shook me, and didn’t let go. Abbott’s characters are all fighters because they have to be: their neighborhood doesn’t offer any easy lives, or easy wins. The triumphs here are hard fought and hard won—and often, painfully, hard lost. This is a fearless, unflinching debut.”
---Caitlin Horrocks, author of This is Not Your City
“Daniel Abbott’s novel has more body and soul, more swagger and sin, more beauty and brokenness, more pain and more love than another dozen brilliant debuts put together. To borrow a phrase from hoops, Abbott leaves it all on the floor—which is to say, the concrete. He’s written this gorgeous, dark, healing book like someone’s life might depend on it.”
---Ellen Lesser, author of The Shoplifter’s Apprentice
“Daniel Abbott writes with authority about the hardscrabble realities of inner city life. With unflinching honesty he explores those souls trapped in darkness and their sometimes heroic struggle to recapture the light. In this strong and gritty novel, Abbott establishes himself as a striking new voice in American fiction.”
---Clint McCown, author of Haints
“Daniel Abbott’s The Concrete begins as a storm on the horizon does, beautiful and whirling and threatening. And as we enter this vivid world of poverty and drugs and basketball, the storm builds until nearly a whole city swirls around us, until we are sucked up into this tornado of words, this tornado of heartbreak, this tornado of beauty.”
---Sean Prentiss, author of Finding Abbey
“Daniel Abbott mines the underbelly of an inner city Michigan neighborhood, shifting through the love and casualties of its inhabitants to find the light and hope that persists in the darkness. The Concrete is a striking and extraordinary debut.”
---Sophfronia Scott, author of Unforgivable Love
"I will quote Daniel Abbott and tell you that his novel made me "disproportionately happy and euphoric off substances." The substances in his novel include searingly precise prose of the first order, characters who live so passionately they nearly walk off the page, and a depth of insight about pain and love that at times I had to put the book down. But never for long. This is a big and loud first novel"