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3.82 out of 53.82 out of 53.82 out of 53.82 out of 53.82 out of 5 3.82 (17 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2012 ISBN: 9780449011768
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Following a desperate night-long battle, a group of beleaguered soldiers in an isolated base in Kandahar are faced with a lone woman demanding the return of her brother’s body. Is she a spy, a black widow, a lunatic, or is she what she claims to be: a grieving young sister intent on burying her brother according to local rites? Single-minded in her mission, she refuses to move from her spot on the field in full view of every soldier in the stark outpost. Her presence quickly proves dangerous as the camp’s tense, claustrophobic atmosphere comes to a boil when the men begin arguing about what to do next.

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s heartbreaking and haunting novel, The Watch, takes a timeless tragedy and hurls it into present-day Afghanistan. Taking its cues from the Antigone myth, Roy-Bhattacharya brilliantly recreates the chaos, intensity, and immediacy of battle and conveys the inevitable repercussions felt by the soldiers, their families, and one sister. The result is a gripping tour through the reality of this very contemporary conflict and our most powerful expression to date of the nature and futility of war.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[The novel] achieves a subtle balance of dramatic forces—personal morality and public order, duty to God and duty to country—that gives it a philosophical depth and wrenching humanity…Roy-Bhattacharya brings a rigorous and often disquieting sense of empathy to each of his clashing characters. There is no outright villain here, only the collision of people stubbornly holding to what they believe to be right and honorable. This is the essence of tragedy, and it makes The Watch the first great novel of the war in Afghanistan.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Roy-Bhattacharya re-animates the timeless themes of Antigone…This brave, visceral novel breaks new ground and does what previous versions of Antigone never have: It makes each character deeply humane, challenging the reader to sympathize with every one of them.”


  • “An engaging work of timeless imagination, both vivid and gritty.”

    Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

  • “The fog of war doesn’t begin to describe what awaits the American soldiers in Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s novel The Watch…Roy-Bhattacharya consulted with front-line officers to get his details right. His description of the firefight in a sandstorm is gripping and terrifying; so are his overlapping accounts of the ethical and military decisions that young men, fatigued, distraught, and unsupported, have to make.”

    Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

  • “The power of Roy-Bhattacharya’s novel is his understanding of all the motivations driving his players. None of their reasons is unreasonable…except as perceived by the other side…Roy-Bhattacharya’s brutally honest portrayal of a remote Afghan confrontation explores the complexities of America’s longest war.”

    Shelf Awareness

  • “Must read fiction. [A] subtle, discomfiting novel, a nonsequential tale that defies conventional storytelling. It contains first-person descriptions from characters who end up dead—traditionally a no-no in fiction, as it tricks the reader into believing such characters have “lived to tell the tale.” And yet in a novel inspired by the tale of Antigone (who made her name by flouting the so-called rule of law), defying convention seems perfectly apt…The threat of the unexpected is one of this novel’s most charming enticements, along with its beautiful renderings of the harsh Afghan landscape, where ‘mountains look like serrated shadows rising into the air’…Given the author’s deft arrangement of scenes, readers will dutifully persevere to see what happens, even if the ending is foretold, tragic, and seemingly inevitable.”

    Daily Beast

  • “Indian novelist Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya adapts the Greek tragedy of Antigone to present-day Afghanistan, telling a harrowing story of a woman who demands the return of her brother’s body and refuses to leave a US military base in Kandahar.”

    Christian Science Monitor (Best Book of Summer 2012)

  • “[A] poignant tale of the war in Afghanistan. Inevitable repercussions for the soldiers and citizens of the country play out viscerally in a plot that takes its cues from the Antigone myth.”

    Columbus Dispatch

  • “Every war spawns its major literary works, and Roy-Bhattacharya’s powerful, modern take on the Afghanistan armed conflict resonates with the echoes of Joseph Heller, Tim O’Brien, and Robert Stone.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Difficult to put down, powerful, eloquent, and even haunting.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s lyrical and poignant evocation of war is a potent reminder of the murderous futility of our imperial adventures in the Middle East. He captures the raw brutality of industrial warfare, along with its trauma, senselessness, random death, and stupidity. His characters, including the soldiers who prosecute the war and the innocents whose lives are maimed and destroyed by it, are consumed alike in the vast orgy of death that sweeps across war zones to extinguish all that is human—tenderness, compassion, understanding, and finally love. He forces us to face the evil we do to others and to ourselves.”

    Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of NBCC finalist War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning

  • “Masterful novel…The book is particularly strong on men in combat, their bloodlust, and their emotional frailty. A powerful reading experience.”

    Sydney Morning Herald

  • Selected for the June 2012 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rosemary Ellis | 2/20/2014

    " An interesting novel set in Afghanistan. The story is told from several characters' points of view, showing that every issue has many perspectives, some polar opposites, yet very understandable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elia | 2/17/2014

    " I read this book at one sitting. It was suspenseful and gave me a new perspective on the war in Afghanistan. The writing was beautiful and moving. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patti | 1/21/2014

    " This was a great book for a book club discussion. The ending provides much fodder. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eric | 1/17/2014

    " War is an ugly, ugly thing, and this book takes you into the heart of that darkness. Riveting. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Orissa | 1/13/2014

    " The first chapter is excellent.. however, the story unravels after that as the author switches back and forth between the different points of view of the US soldiers. This novel wouldve been more compelling if it was condensed into a short story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Isabel Mansfield | 1/9/2014

    " This was a great book very real and stark "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 12/7/2013

    " The book is written in the voices of the officers and enlisted men serving at a remote outpost in Afghanistan as well as a local villager who has come to retrieve the body of her brother. It reflects frustration on the part of our troops as well as the sacrifices that are made on the home front. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Susan | 12/3/2013

    " Just couldn't finish this. Maybe I've read too many anti war books lately but this book just didn't draw me in so I put it aside for now. So many books, so little time. I just had to go pn. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alexis | 10/30/2013

    " I was hooked from the first page; an engaging read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alison | 10/1/2013

    " A cinematic retelling of Antigone with a shocking ending. Excellent. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dana | 8/20/2013

    " This was an incredibly beautifully told (or re-told) story of Antigone. The multiple perspectives that provided a little more about the situation as it revealed the characters and their motivations was moving and dramatic. You could see the "play" unfolding in a vivid way. Highly recommend this one! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara | 7/29/2013

    " Great book as I have said before it tells us both countries suffer emotionally and physically. The ending was a total surlier and readers should read it because I am not revealing the ending. Well worth reading! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michele Wollenzier | 6/6/2013

    " Makes you understand how many ways one may interpret a situation. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anny XD smiles forever!!!! | 5/30/2013

    " Realy great book, really well written and realistic "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 5/23/2013

    " Brings the war in Afghanistan and all of its complexity right into your home. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tom Porter | 8/26/2012

    " I did not like this book. After the first 100 pages I quit reading it. I found it to disturbing for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Prabh Kaur | 7/17/2012

    " i love books like this one. About someones troubles in the middle of such a tragic event. I am absolutely full of joy that i had won this book. "

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About the Author
Author Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya was born in Jamshedpur, India, and educated in politics and philosophy at Calcutta University and the University of Pennsylvania. His novels have been published in fourteen languages in eighteen countries. He lives in upstate New York.