He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt. Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. Joseph Heller's unforgettable vel is a hilarious and tragic satire on military madness, and the tale of one man's efforts to survive it. This fiftieth-anniversary edition celebrates Heller's masterpiece with an introduction by Howard Jacobson, rare images from Heller's personal archive and essays by the likes of Norman Mailer, Anthony Burgess and Christopher Hitchens. Reading Catch-22 is thing less than a rite of passage. Here, at last, is the definitive edition of a classic of world literature.
Joseph Heller was born in 1923 in Brooklyn, New York. He served as a bombardier in the Second World War and then attended New York University and Columbia University and then Oxford, the last on a Fullbright scholarship. He then taught for two years at Pennsylvania State University, before returning to New York, where he began a successful career in the advertising departments of Time, Look and McCall's magazines. It was during this time that he had the idea for Catch-22. Working on the novel in spare moments and evenings at home, it took him eight years to complete: I missed my deadline for Catch-22 by four or five years. I felt that it was the only book I was going to write, so I wanted to do it as well as I could. Actually, I wasn't ever sure I was going to be a writer. When I started Catch-22, I thought writing novels might be a useful way to kill time. Catch-22 was first published in 1961. Everyone in my book accuses everyone else of being crazy, Heller said of the book. Frankly, I think the whole society is nuts. The question is: what does a sane man do in an insane society? His second novel, Something Happened was published in 1974, Good As Gold in 1979, Closing Time in 1994 and Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man in 2000. Joseph Heller died in 1999.