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

The Watch

A Novel

by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya X
The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2012, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2013, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Mark James
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya's heartbreaking and haunting novel, The Watch, takes a timeless tragedy and hurls it into present-day Afghanistan, giving us 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.

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 Review

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 (556 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

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!

Beyond the Book

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 ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

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:

  • Youngblood jacket

    Youngblood

    by Matt Gallagher

    Published 2016

    About this book

    Jarhead meets Redeployment in a suspenseful and smart fiction debut that has been called "thrilling, tragic, and darkly funny" by National Book Award-winning author Phil Klay.

  • And the Mountains Echoed jacket

    And the Mountains Echoed

    by Khaled Hosseini

    Published 2014

    About this book

    More books by this author

    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

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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Trust Exercise
    Trust Exercise
    by Susan Choi
    At face value, Susan Choi's latest release, Trust Exercise, appears to be a familiar story. ...
  • Book Jacket: An American Summer
    An American Summer
    by Alex Kotlowitz
    As a Chicagoan, I've become used to the most common reactions when I'm traveling and tell someone ...
  • Book Jacket: The Sun Is a Compass
    The Sun Is a Compass
    by Caroline Van Hemert
    Caroline Van Hemert fell in love with her future husband, Pat, in 2001, discovering they shared a ...
  • Book Jacket: Women Talking
    Women Talking
    by Miriam Toews
    Miriam Toews' Women Talking is a circadian novel, unfolding over a span of just a few hours and ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Courting Mr. Lincoln
    by Louis Bayard

    A master storyteller at the height of his powers, delivers a page-turning tale of love, longing, and forbidden possibilities.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    When We Left Cuba
    by Chanel Cleeton

    An exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Fly Girls
by Keith O'Brien

How five daring women defied all odds and made aviation history.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win Women Rowing North

The instant New York Times bestseller

A guide to wisdom, authenticity, and bliss for women as they age.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A B Penny A T U

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.