Summary and book reviews of The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

The Watch

A Novel

By Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

The Watch
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 2012,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2013,
    304 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Mark James

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Following a desperate night-long battle, a group of beleaguered soldiers in an isolated base in Kandahar is 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.

Lieutenant

It's a beautiful day. The temperature's in the upper sixties, the sun's dipping in and out of cottony clouds, the sky's an iridescent blue. I'm canoeing down the Hudson, following the river's slow, wide course as it navigates between gentle slopes. Occasionally, a wooded copse spills right down to the waterline: green, brown, yellow, clad in camouflage colors. I can't see a single house, but a freight train runs parallel to the river, its metallic clangor stopping only when it slips into a tunnel at the neck of a bend. The silence that follows seems even more pronounced - and the great white-headed eagle that wheels over my head, riding thermals, suddenly plunges down to the water and flaps away, dangling the silver ribbon of a fish from its talons.

I'm smoking a cigarette, which surprises me, because I'm not a smoker, but I don't question it. Instead, I glance over my shoulder to where Espinosa is in a bright yellow canoe just like mine, water streaming from his ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse

All [of Roy-Bhattacharya's] characters are brought to life through their first person musings - their backstories and points of view are defined through reminiscences as well as dialog with each other. 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.   (Reviewed by Mark James).

Full Review Members Only (1107 words).

Media Reviews
Library Journal

The horror and futility of war - on both the battlefield and the home front - weave their way through this timely achievement. Recommended for fans of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner and particularly for readers interested in international settings or military issues.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.

Booklist

Starred Review. The Watch touches on nearly every trope of war novels, but like the best of the breed, it does so in fresh, exciting ways. Difficult to put down, powerful, eloquent, and even haunting.

Author Blurb J.M. Coetzee
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.

Author Blurb Fatima Bhutto
A poignant and important book about one of the defining events of the start of the twenty-first century; it is devastatingly eloquent and unequivocal about the fact that there is no glory or beauty in war.

Reader Reviews
Toni K

I shed tears.....
This book was an eye opener about the war and its impact. I enjoyed it while I cried. I recommend it highly to all to gain a better understanding of both cultures.

Louise J

Eye Opening
The Watch gives us non-military folk first-hand experience about what war zones are really like. I now have a better understanding why a lot of these soldiers return home changed people. Overall, this was an excellent and eye-opening read.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Antigone and The Watch: A Comparison

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?

Antigone by Frederic Leighton, 1882 Antigone and her siblings are the offspring of Oedipus and his mother/wife, Jocasta. Antigone's brothers take opposing sides in a power struggle over the throne of Thebes and kill each ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Watch, try these:

  • And the Mountains Echoed jacket

    And the Mountains Echoed

    by Khaled Hosseini

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Khaled Hosseini has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations

  • Beaufort jacket

    Beaufort

    by Ron Leshem

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A searing coming-of-age story and a novel for our times—one of the most powerful, visceral portraits of the horror, camaraderie, and absurdity of war in modern fiction.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  90Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.