Unit cohesion - the bond between soldiers that reinforces their dedication to their mission and each other - is a goal of all military leaders. But desire and reality don't always converge. The collection of disparate soldiers in Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya's novel The Watch
is recognizable to many: disenchanted with their mission, they question their leader's decisions. But when a legless woman appears on the perimeter of the base demanding the return of her brother's body, she becomes the unlikely catalyst for an evolution towards a state of unity. Stranger things have happened in war. Never mind that this story has been told before; Roy-Bhattacharya's offering is based on the Greek classic Antigone
(see 'Beyond the Book'), with perhaps an unintended nod to Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny
, but his rendering is as disturbing as Antigone
and stands as an...
Beyond the Book
The Greek classic, Antigone
(written by Sophocles around 440 BC, based on the older Theban legend), serves as the basis for the modern-day Afghan war story, The Watch
. Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya makes no attempt to hide the fact and even invites comparisons, titling two chapters "Antigone" and "Ismene" after the two sisters in the tragedy. A lieutenant in the story lends the classic text to his captain, urging him to read it because "it's about as cogent an analysis as anything you'll find about where we are today." But how alike are the two works?