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 what she claims to be: a grieving sister intent on burying her brother according to local rites? As she persists, single-minded in her mission, the camp's tense, claustrophobic atmosphere comes to a boil as the men argue about what to do next.
The Watch takes an age-old story - the myth of Antigone - and hurls it into present-day Afghanistan. The result is an unputdownable, deeply affecting book that brilliantly exposes the realities of war. It is also our most powerful expression to date of the nature and futility of this very contemporary conflict.
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Sophocles's story of Antigone, who demands her brother's body back after it is decreed that the traitor's corpse be left to rot, is masterfully relocated and updated - The Guardian
This is a rich, unsettling, politically astute novel that will haunt you for a long time after you finish reading it - Sydney Morning Herald
Grim and desolate ... written with a restrained power - The Times
His lyrical prose captures superbly the brutal realities of conflict - Sunday Times
Roy-Bhattacharya's scorching, tightly-wired new novel - Metro
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 -
The strength of this book lies in its tight focus on an otherwise unimportant and undistinguished moment in a war some consider to be ill-conceived and pointless - Daily Telegraph, Australia
a powerful, modern take on the Afghanistan armed conflict resonates with the echoes of Joseph Heller, Tim O’Brien, and Robert Stone - Publishers Weekly (US)
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
Already being likened by US critics to the works of Tim O'Brien and Robert Stone for its unique take on the modern Afghanistan war, it deploys the ancient Greek myth of Antigone to sheet home the horrors of this contemporary conflict … Roy-Bhattacharya breathes a 21st-century sensibility into this ancient tale by passing it through different narrators and he dazzles in his ability to inhabit the minds of his characters, particularly those of the soldiers. All in all, it's an extraordinary, shape-shifting telling that exacts a devastating emotional toll - The West Australian
a brilliant account of the experience of occupiers and occupied - Toronto Star
Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya was born in Jamshedpur, India, and studied politics and philosophy at Presidency College and the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught literature and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, Bard College, and the University at Albany. His novels The Gabriel Club and The Storyteller of Marrakesh have been published in eleven languages in sixteen countries.