Synopses & Reviews
is one of this century's greatest works of American literature. First published m 1961, Joseph Heller's profound and compelling novel has appeared on nearly every list of must read fiction. It is a classic in every sense of the word.
Catch-22 took the war novel genre to a new level, shocking us with its clever and disturbing style. Set in a World War II American bomber squadron off the coast of Italy, Catch-22 is the story of John Yossarian, who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. Yossarian is also trying to decode the meaning of Catch-22, a mysterious regulation that proves that insane people are really the sanest, while the supposedly sensible people are the true madmen. And this novel is full of madmen -- Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly m order to finish their tour; Milo Minderbinder, a dedicated entrepreneur who bombs his own airfield when the Germans offer him an extra 6 percent; Major Major Major, whose tragedy in life is that he resembles Henry Fonda; and Major -- de Coverley, whose face is so forbidding no one has dared ask his name.
No novel before or since has matched Catch-22's intensity and brilliance in depicting the brutal insanity of war. Heller satirizes military bureaucracy with bitter, stinging humor, all the while telling the darkly comic story of Yossarian, a bombardier who refuses to die.
Nearly forty years later, Yossarian lives.
John W. AldridgeThe New York Times Book ReviewA monumental artifact of contemporary literature, almost as assured of longevity as the statues on Easter Island.
Chicago Sun-TimesAn apocalyptic masterpiece.
Robert BrusteinThe New RepublicOne of the most bitterly funny works in the language...explosive, bitter, subversive, brilliant.
This telling satire of military bureaucracy is one of the 20th century's most darkly comic works of American literature, now printed with a new Introduction by the author.
About the Author
was born on May 1, 1923, in Brooklyn, New York. He began writing during his student days at New York University and Columbia University. In 1947 and 1948, he published short stories in Esquire
and The Atlantic Monthly,
and then spent a year abroad as a Fulbright Scholar. When he returned, he taught composition at Pennsylvania State University, and wrote advertising and promotional copy at Time, Look,
At the time, Heller was also working on his first novel, Catch-18. New World Writing published the first chapter in 1955; three years later Heller had a contract to publish the novel with SimonandSchuster. To avoid confusion with Leon Uris's 1961 novel Mila 18, Catch-18 was changed to Catch-22 before its publication in the same year.
Catch-22 is the story of John Yossarian, a bombardier trying to stay alive in the face of war's hypocrisy and insanity (Heller himself was an Army Air Force bombardier during World War II). Upon publication, Catch-22, in Heller's words, "won no prizes and was not on any bestselier list." But it was a very popular novel, and the 1970 film enhanced the book's success.
In addition to stage plays, screenplays, and short stories, Heller continued to write explosive arid satiric novels, including the long-awaited Something Happened (1974), Good as Gold(1979), God Knows (1984), Picture This (1988), and Catch-22's sequel, Closing Time (1994). He also collaborated with Speed Vogel on No Laughing Matter (1986), and wrote a memoir, Now and Then (1998).
Heller's literary achievements span nearly fifty years, and Catch-22 is now considered one of the twentieth century's best novels.
He is married and lives in East Hampton, New York.