NOMINATED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL IMPAC 2014LONGLISTED FOR THE DSC PRIZE FOR SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE 2014
SHORTLISTED FOR CRITICOS PRIZE 2013
SHORTLISTED FOR BOEKE PRIZE 2012
PUBLISHERS' WEEKLY BEST FICTION 2012
SELECTED AS ONE OF 'THE 10 BEST CONTEMPORARY WAR NOVELS' BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
'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.' J.M. Coetzee
'An important book for our times, in which one woman's determination and refusal to consent sets an example of courage and honesty.'
'An elegiac modern day re-telling of Antigone. Bhattacharya's novel is set around an American military base in Afghanistan on the day a woman comes to seek her brother's body so that she may bury him. The perspective shifts throughout the novel, but each gaze is tightly presented and beautifully told. It’s the best novel about post-invasion Afghanistan that I've come across.' Fatima Bhutto
Following a desperate night-long battle, a group of beleaguered soldiers 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 what she claims to be: a grieving sister intent on burying her brother according to local rites? The camp's tense, claustrophobic atmosphere reaches boiling point as the men argue about what to do next. THE WATCH takes an age-old story - the myth of Antigone - and hurls it into present-day Afghanistan. The result is a gripping, deeply affecting book that brilliantly exposes the realities of war.
'A striking new novel draws inspiration from classical literature to paint a vivid portrait of modern war... As good as it is important. Roy-Bhattacharya goes from strength to strength in the closing stages of what develops into a remarkable novel, because of his use of memory filtered through the horrors of the moment. By drawing on classical literature, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya has fashioned a beautiful and heartfelt lamentation.' Irish Times
'The most poignant writings in recent times emerged out of conflict... Authored by the demiurgic Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, THE WATCH is another take on this theatre of war and is being heralded as a captivating war drama. Commended by acclaimed writers and social commentators such as JM Coetzee, Fatima Bhutto and Neel Muckherjee among others, the book reads like a Greek tragic drama.' Harper's Bazaar
'Simultaneously imagistic and stark, taut, tense and moving, layered through multiple first-person accounts, diary entries, ruminations, taciturn conversations, flashbacks and cussing, The Watch is a narrative of dislocation, loss, disintegration, a conflagration of hope and fear, nightmares and passions, paranoia and prescription pills, torn limbs and uncertain minds and all the different, insidious and scarred ways in which war marks people.' Outlook India
'... this deeply affecting novel takes an unflinching look at the realities of combat in the treacherous terrain of the Afghan mountains and of the NATO presence there, making for a powerful contemporary novel of a war that has repercussions for us all.' Foyles
'Barbaric, heartfelt, heartbreaking, and lyrical, this is a primal and beautiful work. And a page-turner to the very last page.' Amazon.com Best Books of the Month, June 2012
'Mr. Roy-Bhattacharya brings a rigorous and often disquieting sense of empathy to each of his clashing characters. There is no outright villain here, only the collision of people stubbornly holding to what they believe to be right and honorable. This is the essence of tragedy, and it makes THE WATCH the first great novel of the war in Afghanistan.' Wall Street Journal
'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.' Booklist
'THE WATCH is a powerful tale, courageous both in concept and creation: an ancient tale made modern, passed through different narrators in extraordinary shape-shifting prose that makes this not just an important novel, but a remarkable read.' Aminatta Forna, author of 'The Memory of Love'
'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 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 'Waiting for the Taliban'
'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.' Publishers Weekly
'Et quel roman! Lisez ne serait-ce que le premier chapitre et vous serez happé.' Le Monde
'Ce roman est tout simplement indispensable.' Pages de Libraires
‘Avec "Une Antigone à Kandahar", Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya a écrit le premier grand roman sur la guerre en Afghanistan.’ France Info
'Une femme face a la folie des hommes, une remise en cause de la guerre et de la bonne conscience occidentale, er surtout: un roman inoubliable.' Marie Claire
Hogarth Press (an imprint of Random House) US
Hogarth Press (an imprint of Random House) UK
Random House Australia
Random House India
Edicije Bozicevic Croatia
De Geus NL
Atmosphere Libri Italy
Editorial Sexto Piso Spain
Material: finished copies (304pp).
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2011 CROSSWORD PRIZE
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2011 THE HINDU FICTION PRIZE
Each year, the storyteller, Hassan, gathers listeners to share their recollections of a young, foreign couple who mysteriously disappeared years earlier. Hassan hopes to shed light upon the truth to absolve his own brother, who is in prison for their disappearance. As testimonies circle an elusive truth, the couple takes on an air as enigmatic as their fate. The first in an ambitious cycle of novels, it is an elegant exploration of the nature of reality and our shifting perceptions of truth. Joydeep is now working on a second book in this vein, set in the oldest literary cafe in the Middle East, the Shahbandar Café in Baghdad, destroyed by a truck bomb in March 2007.
'Hassan, the "storyteller" of Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya's new novel, is more than just a narrator: he is a guide, a witness, a showman, a chronicler of Moroccan legend and lore. His stage is the central square of Marrakesh, Djemaa el Fna, where the myriad wonders of this great, red-walled city surround and inspire him...
On this particular night, however, Hassan is concerned with only one mystery: the story of a foreign couple, a beautiful French-American woman and her Indian partner, who vanished from the square one evening a few years earlier. It's a baffling case, prompting a range of questions: Were they abducted or were they on the run? Were they naïve and reckless, wandering among the kif-smokers and drummers of the night? Or were they seeking some sort of personal escape and oblivion?
But Hassan's tale isn't simply an account of a crime. He aims to tease out the various strands of hearsay and rumor, to string his audience along well into the night. "Perhaps only a single thread separates us from the truth," he declares, "or perhaps an entire ream, but we will know for certain only when we look at the whole weave." Yet as the evening draws on it’s clear that the truth itself has become tangled, its strands increasingly frayed by the members of the audience themselves.
Hassan repeatedly yields the floor to the crowd - a colorful cross-section of Moroccan society, from fortunetellers to acrobats and bodybuilders, Tuareg tribesmen to Berber merchants and Gnawa musicians - who have their own versions of what happened that night. And so, as the differing accounts circle around and subvert one another, Hassan begins to stitch together a larger pattern of riddles about truth and memory, art and imagination. As Mustafa, Hassan's imprisoned brother, who may have been involved in the couple's disappearance, beseeches him: "Make my story into a fable, Hassan, as only you can."
And that is what, in the end, The Storyteller of Marrakesh is: an enigmatic fable in the tradition of The Thousand and One Nights, an extended examination of its own narrative powers in which the stories within the stories come to resemble an intricate, miniaturist design... it is the evocation of place that truly animates the novel. The Djemaa el Fna is alive... it is multi-dimensional, both metaphor and microcosm...
Roy-Bhattacharya... has clearly immersed himself in the richness of Moroccan life and history. It makes a lively home for his questing imagination.' The New York Times Book Review
'He weaves language as mystical as the Jemaa.' The Statesman, New Delhi
'In the midst of this affecting love story is the whole way of life of the citizens of Marrakesh described in perfectly wrought short stories which effect wonderful digressions to the plot and add immensely to the charm of the novel. The tone is always pitch perfect, part fabulist, part realistic and each time Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya jumps off a storytelling cliff, he makes a three point landing.' Biblio
'There are stories within stories, secrets within secrets in this elegantly crafted book that navigates the fine line between the real and the imagined... A trove of metaphysical conceitsm, this tale explores the ambiguities of life as seen through the eyes of a storyteller, aptly the fore-runner of the modern-day novelist.' India Today
'A poetic novel, THE STORYTELLER OF MARRAKESH is about the nature and experience of truth and beauty and love. Roy-Bhattacharya's writing is dense with imagery, transforming what could have been a mere mystery into a lyric Experience.' Al-Jadid
'Roy-Battacharya's descriptive powers are acute, and Marrakesh, the Djemaa, the Sahara, and the High Atlas Mountains are vividly rendered through all the senses. In a time when tensions between Islam and the West are fevered, THE STORYTELLER IN MARRAKESH offers an agreeable change of pace.' Booklist.Com
'The author's talent for describing Morocco, Marrakesh, and the Jemaa el Fna is breathtaking. As Hassan's story builds, the square fills with drummers, jugglers, acrobats, fortune tellers, beggars, artists, poets, and singers. The Jemaa el Fna itself becomes another character in the tale. It wouldn't be surprising if readers book a plane ticket to see such enchanted sites. Treat yourself to a beautiful story with fascinating characters and a thrilling mystery.' Portland Book Review
'Read this, the book is a treat. Savour each chapter for its craft and sweep of imagination.' Business News India
De Geus NL
Trivaks Enterprises/Matar Israel
Ogikr Graficki Atelje Dereta Serbia
Inkilap Kitabevi Turkey
Lambook Maciej Sroga Poland
Westland/ Tranqueban India
National Council for Culture, Arts & Letters Kuwait
Material: finished copies (350pp).
SHORTLISTED FOR THE CROSSWORD PRIZE
PUBLISHING NEWS '10 BEST NOVELS OF THE YEAR'
'An impressive debut, serious and passionate.' J.M. Coetzee
'The Danube, in this novel, has become a landscape of the soul, an interior landscape for the melancholic and passionate solitude and uncertainty which is the destiny of human life on the banks of this river in the terrible meeting with the violence of its mystery.' Claudio Magris
A stunning literary debut of great impact and beauty. A meditation on the fall of communism, a love story and a literary mystery.
In the early 1970's, in the wake of growing political repression in Eastern Europe, a group of young dissidents in Budapest signal their break with the system by forming The Gabriel Club. Dedicated to opposing the prevailing order with the force of their creativity, the group’s activities bring them under the increasing scrutiny of the authorities. Methodically hounded, the Club fractures when its founder suddenly goes missing.
Seventeen years later - and five years after the collapse of Communism in Hungary - the surviving members of the Gabriel Club are reunited by the discovery of a disturbingly lifelike effigy of their vanished companion. The resulting police investigation becomes shrouded in the conflict of identities and loyalties that has cast its shadow over much of Eastern Europe in the aftermath of the Soviet withdrawal. What follows is the struggle between those who collaborated - and would like nothing better than to put the past behind them - and those who resisted the Communist regime and continue to stand up to whitewash history.
THE GABRIEL CLUB is an extraordinary interrogation of memory and identity. It is also a nerve-racking mystery to be pieced together with dramatic results.
'Among the six best books of the year.' Marie Claire
'This extraordinary novel - part mystery, part thriller, part meditation on the whys and wherefores of human existence - firmly holds the reader until the very last page... Totally intriguing, this is a debut novel that is sure to cause a stir. Very highly recommended.' Good Book Guide
'Absorbing... the author creates a firm sense of time and space; he evokes Budapest and its people with sympathy and intimate detail, and the mystery at the story's heart is sustained throughout. Sadly, it appears that this novel's political relevance is in no danger of fading.' Observer
'A delightful and unashamedly literary novel in which everything is uncertain. Roy-Bhattacharya's representation of the Budapest cityscape is as vivid and memorable as the story he tells.' Daily Telegraph
'A clever combination of adventure and mystery, told with considerable skill. A novel of great quality, and a first novel at that.' Publishing News
'Roy-Bhattacharya commands arresting imagery. [His] style has a confident fluency, achieving a sensuous touch which is appropriate and helps the story along.' London Magazine
'A superb mystery set during and after the fall of communism.' Bookseller
'The book never palls. A splendid effort has been made to pierce to the heart of artistic characters, locked in desperate struggle with themselves and their environment. We're going to hear more about Mr. Bhattacharya in the future.' Outlook
'A verbal blitz. Almost cinematic in scope and texture.' Indian Express Sunday Magazine
'An intriguing book... Powerful writing from a newcomer.' Asian Age
'The Gabriel Club is the romance of dissent plus the mystery of liberation. In [this] lush and cerebral whodunit, memory is pitted against power. An intellectually fashionable subject for a well-read outsider.’ Indian Express
Actes Sud France
Neri Pozza Italy
Material: finished copies (320pp).