For Abraham de Bruyn and the young men of The Island, World War II offers more than a chance to prove their mettle. Compensation for signing up to fight is a dream come true: each soldier will receive a piece of land to call his own. Having been removed to The Island years before from land at the foot of the majestic Outeniqua Mountains in the southern Cape, where they had lived and farmed for generations, they believe that Jan Smuts’s war will finally put things right.
Leaving his young wife and family behind, Abraham travels to North Africa. With him is his brother, Stanley, and Kobus, a wayward Afrikaner who is fighting alongside the Allies against the wishes of his Nationalist father.
In Egypt, a fateful bullet sends Abraham home, but his battle is far from over as promises of land turn to dust. When in 1950 Abraham and his people are forced to move again, circumstances become almost unbearable. What does a good man have to endure for his own handful of earth?
Simon Bruinders’s novel, first published in Afrikaans as Die Sideboard , is not only the story of a family caught up in the throes of history. It is also a rich chronicle of an often overlooked community that toiled on South African soil for centuries, and bears witness to the resilience of the human spirit.