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.
Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2012: A legless woman approaches a military outpost in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province, ostensibly to retrieve the body of her brother, who has been killed in a firefight. Having survived that firefight, the soldiers inside the compound are wary and edgy. That's the setup to a taut and gritty story that unfolds amid the dust, shadows, and unease of one slice of the war in Afghanistan. Playing with the myth of Antigone, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya has crafted an eloquent and intimate look at the types of events still occurring on a daily basis. At the Tarsandan combat outpost, as the woman refuses to leave and questions mount about her true intentions, everything comes into question--what's right and wrong? why are we here? Barbaric, heartfelt, heartbreaking, and lyrical, this is a primal and beautiful work. And a page-turner to the very last page. --Neal Thompson
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
—Chris Hedges, author of War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning and Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter
“Merciless and beautiful both, like the Central Asian outpost carved out of sand and war in which it is set, The Watch is a meticulous, gut-wrenching analysis of how we perpetuate violence. It is a reminder that we all—participants and onlookers alike—are complicit in the barbarities of war. It is our responsibility as writers to speak of the cruelty that each of us is capable of: cruelty that in the far-flung desert reaches of the empire, away from public scrutiny, seems to multiply with the wind’s breath, like loess grains. Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya fulfills his responsibility superbly.”
—Anna Badkhen, author of Peace Meal... --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
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