The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

73%

26 Critic Reviews

The novel, moving the Antigone story to the war in Afghanistan, achieves a subtle balance of dramatic forces—personal morality and public order, duty to God and duty to country...
-WSJ online

Synopsis

   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.

 

About Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

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Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya was educated in politics and philosophy at Presidency College, Calcutta, and the University of Pennsylvania. His novels The Gabriel Club and The Storyteller of Marrakesh have been published in fourteen languages. He lives in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Visit him at joydeeproybhattacharya.com.
 
Published June 5, 2012 by Hogarth. 338 pages
Genres: Other, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Watch
All: 26 | Positive: 20 | Negative: 6

Kirkus

Below average
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Jun 15 2012

Pressing parallels to Greek drama, this Indian author’s ambitious but poorly structured third novel is about an Afghanistan War episode.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Kamila Shamsie on Jun 15 2012

...not quite enough justification for the reams and reams of speech that compose a large part of The Watch. Some of it is effective...but too often the debating soldiers are mouthpieces for differing attitudes to war or simply become tedious.

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WSJ online

Excellent
Reviewed by SAM SACKS on Jun 01 2012

The novel, moving the Antigone story to the war in Afghanistan, achieves a subtle balance of dramatic forces—personal morality and public order, duty to God and duty to country...

Read Full Review of The Watch | See more reviews from WSJ online

NPR

Good
Reviewed by Jaya Aninda Chatterjee on Jun 06 2012

...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.

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National Post arts

Excellent
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Jun 15 2012

In the end, The Watch remains an American-style war novel, concerned basically with the soldiers of one beleaguered outfit.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by FIONA SAMPSON on May 26 2012

It's brave of a novelist raised in post-Partition India to try to imagine the inner world of a young Pashto Muslim woman like Nizam, the legless rebaab player he casts as Antigone.

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USA Today

Below average
Reviewed by David Daley on Jun 24 2012

His obvious plot lacks drama, all the way to the inevitable (and clumsy) last scene. His soldiers never come to life as real characters. He's cast marionettes with points-of-view, not people...

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Dallas News

Excellent
Reviewed by JOSH McCALL on Jul 06 2012

Here we have instead a pandemic of homesickness. (There’s a Greek tradition there too.) The men in The Watch have lost their girlfriends and wives, their fathers and mothers.

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Independent Online

Below average
Reviewed by Diane de Beer on Oct 04 2012

Because there’s nothing new and as each character tackles yet another aspect of war, it does feel a bit like a propaganda drum roll being run through.

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Chronogram

Excellent
Reviewed by Djelloul Marbrook on Jul 27 2012

This jewel of a novel thus speaks to two great American calamities: a nation unable to stop making war, and a nation at war with women.

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Artvoice

Excellent
Reviewed by David Landrey on Jun 14 2012

Roy-Bhattacharya demonstrates not only deep knowledge of the political circumstances of the war in Afghanistan, of the intricacies of problematical American policies; he also has a sensitivity to the nuances of various American regionalisms...

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World Literature Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Jim Hannan

In all except two chapters, the novel represents the war in Afghanistan from the perspective of the Americans who find themselves in almost surreal conditions...

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Hyphen

Excellent
Reviewed by Anisha Sridhar on Oct 10 2012

...is a classic anti-war narrative. Bhattacharya takes great pains to paint a realistic portrayal of war, the camaraderie between the men, and the emotional support that they so badly need from one another.

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Divanee.

Excellent
Reviewed by AMINA ELAHI on Jul 04 2012

At once captivating and heartbreaking, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s novel “The Watch” is a sad and beautiful exploration of the toll of war.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Jun 15 2012

...The Watch remains an American-style war novel, concerned basically with the soldiers of one beleaguered outfit. Working in this vein, Roy-Bhattacharya arouses immense sympathy for the soldiers, while not idealizing them.

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Literary Treats

Below average
Reviewed by Jaclyn. on Jun 13 2012

...the consistent shifts in viewpoint kept the story from really gelling for me. Aside from the Afghan translator and Antigone herself, I found it difficult to tell the other characters apart.

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Of Books and Reading

Good
Reviewed by thehungryreader on Aug 17 2012

“The Watch” is mesmerizing and will draw you in from the first page. It is a modern retelling of Antigone by Sophocles. Then again, the comparison ends only in the threadbare plot.

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Boston Bibliophile

Good
Reviewed by Marie on Jun 13 2012

It's a brilliant, multi-dimensional examination of the war in Afghanistan told from different points of view- an Afghan woman, a translator, a military doctor, a commander, and more.

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Blogging for a Good Book

Good
Reviewed by Andrew on Nov 05 2012

This is a tragic tale, told with power and precision by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya.

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Kittling: Books

Good
Reviewed by Cathy on Jun 07 2012

In the end, I found a great deal to admire in the book, but I believe the author tried too hard to get the point across that America must get out of Afghanistan.

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Collected Miscellany

Below average
Reviewed by Kevin on Oct 02 2012

While I enjoyed the book for the most part, and found much of the writing well done, it just seemed to be trying to hard to be literary and topical.

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Frisbee: A Book Journal

Good
Reviewed by Frisbee on Jun 13 2012

It’s a remarkable book. And, of course, I read it as an anti-war book.

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Its A Book Thing

Good
Reviewed by Kelly on Oct 23 2012

Joydeep has a lyrical style of writing that allows each character to take their space upon the stage and act out their part with emotion, perception and crumbling lives...

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Black and White Fountain

Good
Reviewed by Saaz Aggarwal on Aug 30 2012

He depicts living cultures, and lays them side by side for the reader to compare and admire. He makes us wish, even while showing us that it’s impossible, for a happy ending.

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Absolutely Not Sure

Good
Reviewed by Anisha on Aug 22 2012

What particularly impressed me was JRB's way of rendering the same scene from the different character's eyes.Each time, adding a small detail.

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Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

Good
Reviewed by Diana Scoville on Jul 19 2012

Set on a United States Army Combat Outpost in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan, The Watch is an incredible story told from multiple perspectives.

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Reader Rating for The Watch
79%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 113 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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