Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya was born in Jamshedpur, India, and educated in philosophy and politics at Presidency College, Calcutta, and International Relations and Political Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, he traveled to Eastern Europe in 1989 and 1990 and witnessed the Velvet Revolutions. He returned repeatedly to East-Central Europe for the next four years, visits that gave rise both to a lasting fascination with the region and his first novel, The Gabriel Club, set in Budapest and Vienna.
Following the publication of The Gabriel Club, Joydeep left academia to devote his time to writing. He spent the next seven years on a long novel set in Germany between the wars. That project is on-going and supported by brief teaching stints at Bard College (2005-6) and the University at Albany (2007).
Meanwhile, in 2008, he set out to write a cycle of three discrete novels set in the Islamic world, both to redress the gross simplifications accorded that culture in the West, and to highlight aspects of the contemporary world's Muslim inheritance. The novels in this ‘Peace Cycle’ are:
- The Storyteller of Marrakesh (dealing with oral storytelling traditions): 2011
- Light Angel (set in Iran and dealing with Persian mysticism, calligraphy and poetry): forthcoming
- The Jamil Baghdad Café (set in Iraq and dealing with the literary inheritance of the Caliphate): forthcoming
At the same time, in order to directly address the on-going conflict between the West and the Muslim world, he set out to write a trilogy of interconnected novels featuring the US occupation of Afghanistan. The novels in this ‘War Trilogy’ are:
- Book 1: Mortal, Immortal (based on Aeschylus’s Seven Against Thebes): forthcoming
- Book 2: The Watch (based on Sophocles' Antigone): 2012
- Book 3: Afterland (based on Sophocles' Ajax): forthcoming
The Watch was the inaugural title in Random House's 2012 relaunch of Virginia and Leonard's Woolf's Hogarth imprint and was simultaneously published in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US. It was a finalist for the 2012 Criticos Prize (UK), the 2012 Boeke Prize (South Africa), longlisted for the 2013 DSC South Asian Prize in Fiction, longlisted for the 2014 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and was selected Stateside by Publishers Weekly for their Best Fiction (2012) and Ten Best Contemporary War Novels (2014) lists.
Joydeep lives with his tribe of seven cats in rural Rhinebeck in the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York. He has travelled extensively in Asia, North Africa, Europe and the United States, and continues to search for his own personal Shambhala, a place rooted in the spirit and with a view over mountains and water.