by Joseph Heller | Grades: 9-12
About Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read.
Fifty years after its original publication, Catch-22 remains a cornerstone of American literature and one of the funniest--and most celebrated--books of all time. In recent years it has been named to "best novels" lists by Time, Newsweek, the Modern Library, and the London Observer.
Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him.
But his real problem is not the enemy--it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he's assigned, he'll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.
"Catch-22 is the only war novel I've ever read that makes any sense." --Harper Lee
"One of the greatest anti-war books ever written." -- Vanity Fair
"One of the most bitterly funny works in the language . . . Explosive, bitter, subversive, brilliant." -- The New Republic
"This novel is not merely the best American novel to come out of World War II, it is the best American novel that has come out of anywhere in years." --Nelson Algren, The Nation
A Biographical Note About Joseph Heller
Joseph Heller was born in Brooklyn in 1923. In 1961, he published Catch-22, which became a bestseller and, in 1970, a film. He went on to write such novels as Good as Gold, God Knows, Picture This, Closing Time, and Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man. Heller died in 1999.