Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Watch” as Want to Read:
The Watch
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Excerpt

The Watch

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,201 ratings  ·  270 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Hogarth (first published 2012)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Watch, please sign up.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,201 ratings  ·  270 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Watch
Sep 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Dear Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya,

I threw your book down on the floor after finishing it and yelled, “No! no! no!”

The first chapter is perhaps one of the most brilliant I have read: tight, exact, culturally specific, and with momentum that propelled me through the rest of the book. The chapter alone is worth reading the book.

Alas, it is the only good chapter.

There are so many things wrong with your book that I don’t know where to start. Let me go through the list:

- Antigone? You want to start and
Julie Gant
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book broke my heart.

On a personal note, I lived and worked in Afghanistan in the zeroes, mostly in Kabul, and and the locals always struck me as good, simple, hospitable people. What is now happening in that country is terrible, and this is the first book I've read that shows both sides of the story, without taking sides, which makes it different from almost all the Western and especially American accounts I've read about the war. I've tried to keep up with the friends I made there, who're
Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Following a fierce battle, a lone Afghan woman, Nizam, approaches an isolated American base in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan and demands that the body of the dead insurgent leader be given to her for burial. The dead man is her brother and it is her responsibility, as the last surviving member of his family, to insure he is buried according to their customs. Unfortunately, since he has been ordered to hold the body until it can be transported to Kabul, the base commander refuses her reque ...more
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
** $1.99 on Amazon today June 1, 2017 for Kindle! **

I LOVED this, but not sure it would be to everyone's taste. Read the blurb and other reviews first. If you liked "The Yellow Birds" or "Deployment," you may like this.
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Lana says:

I already knew from reading The Gabriel Club that Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya doesn’t just tell a story: he puts you at the heart of it and opens your senses to its pulsating life. So that’s what I was looking for when I read The Watch, and that’s what I got. But I hadn’t anticipated that the life it opened to would be quite so devastating. I knew by the description that the story takes place in war torn Afghanistan, so I expected it to disturb: war stories do disturb. But Roy-Bhattachary
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Along with the dark humor of Satantango by the contemporary Hungarian writer Laszlo Krasnahorkai, The Watch is my best read of the year without a doubt.

The story is simple and stark. A young Afghan woman, mutilated in a drone attack that killed the rest of her family, appears before a remote US outpost to ask for the return of her brother's body. Trouble is, her brother led an overnight attack on the outpost that resulted in his own death and that of the rest of his band, but not before the sol
Clif Hostetler
Nov 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This novel provides a creatively constructed contrast between the horror and the humanity of war. By using a combination of the plot used in Sophocles' Antigone, and the first person narrative of seven different individuals who participated in a firefight at an isolated base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, the narrative reveals the human side of the agony brought by war.

The similarities between this book and Antigone is not subtle. The references to classical Greek plays occur in every chapter of the
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Wow. I really wanted to like this book. There is almost nothing in the world of fiction about the war in Afghanistan, and that complicated place is begging for a way to be understood - or not understood, as the case may be. Roy-Bhattacharya seemed like a good candidate to introduce people to the complexities of that land, and to the Americans who have now been laboring there for more than a decade. But he fails. Technically, all the pieces are in place: bewildered, working-class grunts; exhauste ...more
Steve Campbell
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers of David Finkel, Sebastian Junger, Michael Herr
The stuff of everyday headlines these days and very possibly the best book I've read on the current wars. On the edge, driven, taut, and by far the best depiction of American soldiers on the front line. In many ways a mixture of Jarhead and War, it takes you straight into the fighting, bleeding, dying. In simple, direct language, with just the kind of 24/7 unexpected situations you face in combat.

So what do you do when you're faced with a civilian who turns up just when you've survived a viciou
Doug Bremner
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2012
The Watch, a new novel by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, is an interesting story of war and conflict told from multiple perspectives. It starts out with the story of a disabled girl who has her entire family to bombing in Afghanistan, who takes a long journey to retrieve the body of her brother, who was recently killed leading an assault on a base in Kandahar. She camps outside the base for days waiting for the soldiers to release the body for burial, which they have orders not to do. This story inte ...more
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've been an admirer of this writer's work since I read The Storyteller of Marrakesh last year. The Watch I feel helps me in my five-years-and-counting project of figuring out America, and how I fit into it, through great fiction.

Roy-Bhattacharya recently spoke about the disgust and apathy that are the most common responses to discussion of the war in Afghanistan. There's been good reportage and memoir coming out of it, but surprisingly little serious fiction. With understanding and often sympa
Kelly Knapp
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone over the age of 15 or 16
Recommended to Kelly by: Goodreads Firstreads program
I would have given this book a 5 star rating, but it felt like someone forgot to finish it.

This book was absolutly amazing. After a firefight on an Afganastan/American military post, a young disabled woman travels from her home to the area where the fight happened. She has one purpose, to see her brother given a proper muslim bureal...or does she?

This is the problem. What are her motives? Does she really want to bury her brother or is she a suicide bomber? Should the men in the post trust her, o
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller, first-reads
The Watch is a powerful and moving story. Based on the greek play, Antigones, it is updated and set in present day Afghanistan.

The story is told and retold from multiple perspectives, overlapping both in time and in vantage point. The novel takes a story that starts out two-dimensionally and builds it into a three-dimensional image with each character’s perspective. Layer upon layer is added brilliantly to the narrative. It captures the intensity, confusion and conflict both internally and exte
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
The story is well-written and, I think, wonderfully interweaves the eight different perspectives occurring over a few days to carefully construct the characters, the atmosphere of a US military outpost in the harsh environment of the Afghan desert, and to juxtapose the different cultures.

It is a story that can be enjoyed very much for it's plot and characters alone, but one that I also found to be very thought-provoking and topical, drawing on many different themes and conflicts. With the genera
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: literary fiction
Last month I attended a reading in our local bookstore by the author. He was preceded by a Captain from the US army who spoke movingly about his experiences in Afghanistan. Both speakers were emotionally intense and went out of their way to address queries. I remember especially the statement made by the officer that less than 1% of the American population serve in the military and bear the brunt of their sacrifices. Our entire audience was very appreciative of the opportunity given to the offic ...more
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-read
Battlefield. This word immediately stirs up a myriad of images, anything from charging horses and swords to beaches strewn with mines, numbered hills and rice patties, or a dry barren patch of desert in Afghanistan. Some of the fiercest, most frightening battles are fought on the smallest field of all - the one inside each participant's mind.

The enemy. Traditionally, the men in those other uniforms. Morphed into present, the enemy is the man, woman or child currently trying to destroy you. Forg
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it

The Watch is based off the ancient Greek tale of Antigone. Don't remember that one? Don't feel bad. Neither did I. Basically Antigone's brother dies in battle outside the gates of the city. Antigone wants to bring his body back inside the gates for a proper burial but he's branded a traitor and the punishment is that he has to rot out there. The Watch is kinda flip flopped. The sister is outside the gates of the base and the dead brother is inside, but she wants his body for a proper burial.

Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great book. Very well written. It was a different book than I am use to reading because there was no great battle. No great evil plot at hand. It was one woman who wanted to bury her brother and would not take no for an answer. Jumping to different points of views on the situation gave the story a lot of depth too. The different officers trying to control their men and the situation, along with their own lives (many of which were falling apart). Showing how Americans and Afghans just do not seem ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Here's a novel that brings the Greek play Antigone to the 21st century as it delves into the complexities of war, mythology, being a soldier, American family issues/dysfunction, and many other issues. The first chapter gets you hooked and you slug through the soldiers' narratives about the critical chapter one event from various slice-of-life perspectives. The literary quality should make this work up for various awards and it'd be an outstanding novel for any unit on why we're in Afghanistan. O ...more
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Bookish pundits keep wondering when we'll see great literature coming out of our wars in the Middle East. This one is in the running. I'm still shaking from its portrayal of life in the unit, the quilted voices of each individual soldier with the loves and sorrows in the background of each, as well as their similarities when they're in the desert. The way war forces out the tenderest humanity one moment and the starkest inhumanity the next. The confusion and surety. The complicated loyalties. As ...more
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
In his novel The Watch, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya transplants the story of Antigone to an isolated American outpost in a desert in Afghanistan.

The novel opens with Nizam, a young burqa-clad Afghan girl whose family was killed by an American drone as they were returning from a wedding. Although she survived the attack, Nizam lost both her legs. With makeshift bandages wrapped around her stumps, she drives a cart to the isolated American outpost to request her brother's body for burial. As the lon
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war, afghanistan, literary
In 1970, fresh out of Vietnam and not feeling welcome at home, I felt the need for a respite in a very different country and chose Thailand. That didn't work out so next up was Afghanistan on a friend's suggestion. It turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done. I remember writing a postcard home about how peaceful the country was, the friendly people, the slow pace of life. It was like dropping into a past time. The countryside was beautiful, filled with fruit orchards, there was onl ...more
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012-best-reads
This is my first Goodreads review. The Watch is an insanely good book. Moving, intelligent, and very provocative, I defy anyone who can finish it without feeling complicit. As well, the humor that runs through the conversations is very real,mainly because the two things that get soldiers through the insane conditions they have to cope with are humor and profanity, and The Watch has plenty of both. At the same time, it's the first war fiction I'v e read about Afghanistan or Iraq that gives a soun ...more
Nicki Markus
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting piece. I loved the way the Antigone story was transposed into a modern situation and the background of the war in Afghanistan seemed very fitting.

The lack of speech punctuation irritated me at first, but soon I got used to it. I did like the way the story was told through the viewpoints of several different characters; it added extra layers of meaning and let you see things from all perspectives.

This is a compelling tale and is presented perfectly with good pacing an
Jack R Moorhead
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers of literary and serious fiction and non-fiction
Recommended to Jack R Moorhead by: Bookseller recommendation
I read The Watch on the recommendation of my bookseller. I read it in three sittings, and then went back and reread the first chapter to check on a few details. Except for that the title is already taken, halfway through the book I thought it should have been called The Killing Field, not only because of the barren deserted field that is at the forefront of the action, but also because for the men in the battlefield what is the prevalent act of war other than about killing? And for all the train ...more
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Compulsively readable. A shaming comment on the nature and balance of power in a conflict zone. If you want to know how and why wars go bad despite the very best intentions, read this book. Combining poetic intensity with spare prose, Roy-Battacharya manages to both capture history in the making and surpass it in this modern masterpiece. Filled with stark conviction, Roy-Battacharya has conyeved the moral quagmire of an entire war by locating it in the experience of a single company of brave men ...more
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
A very poignant book during this time of war. The story is based on the Greek classic, Antigone and references to this work appear throughout the book. A woman arrives at a remote outpost in Khandahar Afghanistan to claim and bury her brother. After a devastating attack on the outpost, the troops do not know whether to believe this woman is there in peace or if she a spy leading a future attack or a suicide bomber. The various members of the platoon tell their story sparked by this woman's appea ...more
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very reminiscent of Tim O'Brien: A non-linear plot weaving the surreal memories and fantasies of the soldiers with the troubling and often brutal realtities of their circumstances, all framed within a life or death decision pertaining to an Afghan civilian. As Sassoon wrote, and as O'Brien echoed, "Soldiers are dreamers", and this book captures their wistful innocence, desparate frustration, and capacity for cruelty. Solid read. ...more
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book made me think a great deal. Each section was told from a different perspective. It is a cliche, but war is hell and so is the aftermath. Even though I knew certain characters were dead, I kept wishing they were alive because I liked them so much. I would recommend this book to just about any adult. It gives a look at our war in Afghanistan from many different points of view, but doesn't come off as preachy or even as the solution to the war. ...more
Florence Primrose
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Watch is a heart-breaking novel about the tragedy of Afghanistan. This is the story of the soldiers at an isolated base in Kandahar faced with a lone woman who has come to demand the return of her brother's body to bury.

In this novel we learn how we perpetuate violence. This is reality in a contemporary conflict and a powerful expression of e nature and futility of war.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Book about war afghanistan (i think) recent publish [s] 6 187 Nov 19, 2015 04:46PM  
So who is the book about ? 1 5 Apr 12, 2014 02:55PM  
Read It Forward: * THE WATCH by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya 11 36 Aug 02, 2012 02:08PM  
Ending 2 22 Jul 31, 2012 11:58AM  
Random House of C...: BOOK TRAILER: The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya 1 12 Apr 26, 2012 10:58AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Nightwoods
  • Dearly: New Poems
  • Viata, patimile si cantecele lui Leonard Cohen
  • Random Acts
  • Us Conductors
  • To Have and to Hold
  • If Nights Could Talk: A Family Memoir
  • Second Chance
  • The World Of Sex
  • Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls
  • The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
  • The End of October
  • Nothing More Dangerous
  • Приключенията на Франклин и неговите приятели
  • Vara în care mama a avut ochii verzi
  • Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism
  • L'Abattoir de verre
  • The Woman in the White Kimono
See similar books…
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.

News & Interviews

  In most romances, a romp in the hay comes after many chapters of meeting cute, silent pining, and steamy banter. Not so for books that...
3 likes · 0 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »