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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (517 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya Narrator: various narrators 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 by 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.

Chapter:
“Antigone”                                                                Read by Reha Zamani
“Lieutenant” and “Lieutenant’s Journal”                        Read by George Newbern
"Medic"                                                                     Dustin Rubin
"Ismene"                                                                  Zadran Wali
"Second Lieutenant"                                                   Kaleo Griffith
"First Sergeant"                                                          Richard Allen
"Captain"                                                                  Kris Koscheski

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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
     
  • If you want a book that's going to pull you in a dozen different emotional directions, confuse you, intrigue you, then rip your heart into shreds, The Watch is the book for you. It's a brilliant, multi-dimensional examination of the war in Afghanistan told from different points of view. [A] really incredible book. It will truly stay with you for a long time after you put it down, and you won't want to. The Boston Bibliophile
  • It is common to speak of certain wars as ‘tragedies,’ with the implication that as terrible as such wars are, no one is to be blamed for them. This astonishing novel reclaims tragedy’s primal roots and locates them in America's occupation of Afghanistan. The Watch is a work of beauty and terror, exacting in its realism, breathtaking in the range of its sympathy, devastating in its judgment. Peter Trachtenberg, author of The Book of Calamities and 7 Tattoos
  • “The Watch is the most brilliant novel to be written about one of the defining events of the start of the 21st century. With this book, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya has proved himself to be the modern Norman Mailer. The Watch is a stunning account of war, of the terrifying range of emotions, the despair and the sheer fatigue which men have to endure in combat. It is a must-read for anyone interested in our common humanity and the terrible things we do to each other. The Watch is quite simply superb. ABC Brisbane (Australia)
  • A striking new novel draws inspiration from classical literature to paint a vivid portrait of modern war. …As good as it is important. Roy-Bhattacharya goes from strength to strength in the closing stages of what develops into a remarkable novel, because of his use of memory filtered through the horrors of the moment. By drawing on classical literature, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya has fashioned a beautiful and heartfelt lamentation. Irish Times
  • I felt within Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s pages a carefully attuned mind examining and analyzing all sides of the Afghanistan debate, an attitude found less frequently in fiction than in drama. It is a relief to hear it again in this novel, as the boundaries blur between good and bad, between new and old, between audience and actors, between them and us. Black Balloon
  • Roy-Bhattacharya captures the ethos of the battle weary troops and their vernacular in a striking way, and drives home another central point of his novel - the cultural distance that prevails not only between the Americans and Afghanis, but between the U.S. military personnel who have been called upon to fight this war - over the course of repeated tours of duty - and the general American public. Manchester Journal
  • [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…Mr. 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
  • An engaging work of timeless imagination, both vivid and gritty. Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
  • The Watch is an important war novel. Dallas News
  • Antigone, the mythological heroine of Sophocles’ 2,500-year-old drama, pleads with King Creon to allow her to bury her brother, who died in battle. It must be done or the gods will be unhappy. A beautiful re-enactment of this tragedy plays out in the dust of a forlorn outpost in Afghanistan when a young woman parks herself outside a fort and pleads with American soldiers stationed there to give her the body of her brother slain in the conflict…So worthwhile to read this lyrical drama about the horror of war to find out. New Jersey Star Ledger, Kathleen Daley
  • H]ere's a novel that has a little different slant on modern combat--it puts us on the other side of the concertina wire ringing the American compounds in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Watch takes the classic story of Antigone and puts in the tense, frightening setting of sand, heat and hair-trigger nerves. David Abrams, author of Fobbit
     
  • The Watch is a powerful tale, courageous both in concept and creation: an ancient tale made modern, passed through different narrators in extraordinary shape shifting prose that makes this not just an important novel, but a remarkable read. Aminatta Forna, author of Orange Prize shortlisted The Memory of Love
  • You will remember her voice, this Afghan Antigone!  You will remember this American First Sergeant, and this American First Lieutenant!  What a masterpiece of the art of fiction--proof, if any were needed, that the Muse is real.  Author Roy-Bhattacharya, neither Afghan nor American, faithfully sees and hears the good in both sides, and blows us off our feet in the shock wave from their explosive collision. Jonathan Shay MD, PhD, author of Achilles in Vietnam and Odysseus in America
  • Merciless and beautiful both, like the Central Asian outpost carved out of sand and war in which it is set, The Watch is a meticulous, gut-wrenching analysis of how we perpetuate violence. It is a reminder that we all--participants and onlookers alike--are complicit in the barbarities of war. It is our responsibility as writers to speak of the cruelty that each of us is capable of: cruelty that in the far-flung desert reaches of the empire, away from public scrutiny, seems to multiply with the wind's breath, like loess grains. Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya fulfills his responsibility superbly. Anna Badkhen, author of Peace Meals: Candy-Wrapped Kalashnikovs and Other War Stories and Waiting for the Taliban
  • “[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

  • We watch as the resistance of an isolated American garrison in Afghanistan is ground down, not by force of arms but by the will of a single unarmed woman, holding inflexibly to an idea of what is just and right. J.M. Coetzee, recipient of the Nobel Prize and a two-time Man Booker Prize winner
  • 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. NPR.org
  • A heartbreaking and haunting look at the nature and reality of war. Wichita Eagle, Watermark Books New & Recommended
  • 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
  • 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. The Daily Beast
     
  • [A] rendering as disturbing as Antigone and stands as an original itself … Roy-Bhattacharya leads the reader down a path of discovery and demonstrates how misunderstanding can be perpetuated in what is ultimately a microcosm of the war itself … Dream sequences that meld into reality, and vice versa, create a surreal atmosphere that crosses from the conscious world to the unconscious, mimicking the blurred line between life and death in combat.  The Watch is a tale that illustrates the futility of war at its most basic level. BookBrowse, featured review
  • What it’s about: Set in modern Afghanistan, this tragic tale about a sister who demands that American soldiers return her brother’s body echoes the Greek tragedy 'Antigone.' -Why it’s hot: 'Publishers Weekly' compared the Indian-born novelist to past masters of the war novel like Joseph Heller, Tim O’Brien and Robert Stone. USA Today Summer Books Literary Fiction Pick
  • 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 Books 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. The Columbus Dispatch
  • When a woman approaches a group of soldiers based in Kandahar demanding they procure her brother’s body, they must wonder if her intentions are pure, if she suffers from insanity or if she has ulterior motives. Either way, she remains resolute in her mission, stationing herself alongside the army base causing tensions among the soldiers, unsure of how to handle the situation.  Through this lens, Roy-Bhattacharya uses a familiar story of loss to examine Afghanistan as it exists today. The Poughkeepsie Journal
  • 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
  • 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
  • A poignant and important book about one of the defining events of the start of the 21st century; it is devastatingly eloquent and unequivocal about the fact that there is no glory or beauty in war. Fatima Bhutto, author of Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir
  • An important book for our times, in which one woman’s determination and refusal to consent sets an example of courage and honesty. Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland and Turbulence
  • Difficult to put down, powerful, eloquent, and even haunting. Booklist, starred review
  • “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.”

    NPR.org

  • “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.