Nominated by:

Cleveland Public Library, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Hogarth Press, USA

The Watch

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya      

2014 Longlist

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.

Told from various points of view, including those of the U.S. soldiers, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s heartbreaking and haunting novel takes a timeless tragedy and hurls it into present-day Afghanistan. Taking its cues from the Antigone myth, Roy-Bhattacharya recreates the chaos, intensity, and immediacy of battle, and conveys the inevitable repercussions felt by the soldiers, and their families, and especially one sister. The result is the most powerful expression to date of the nature and futility of war.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya was educated in politics and philosophy at Presidency College, Calcutta, and the University of Pennsylvania. His novels The Gabriel Club and The Storyteller of Marrakesh have been published in fourteen languages. He lives in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York.

Librarian’s Comments

The author has created a realistic portrayal of the tensions experienced by soldiers trapped within the walls of a small compound located within a hostile and volatile environment and faced with a situation which none of them has before experienced. While the ending leaves the reader shocked and saddened, it is a likely ending considering the attitudes of the camp’s soldiers regarding the aims of their mission, and the uncertainty surrounding their relationship with the local inhabitants.

Related Entries