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50th Anniversary of Joseph Heller’s Classic Catch-22

Catch-22, Joseph Heller’s classic satire on the absurdity of war will turn 50 this October, and publisher Simon & Schuster has released a special anniversary edition of the book to commemorate the occasion. This latest edition features a bounty of additional material including a new introduction written by Christopher Buckley, several essays by Heller discussing the conception of the story, and critical reviews by literary luminaries such as Anthony Burgess and Norman Mailer. The writer served in World War II, and his personal experience helped shaped the story of Yossarian, the hapless bombardier forced to risk his life by flying an increasing number of missions for the good of his country. Catch-22, the convoluted bureaucratic rule that prevents Yossarian from escaping combat is now embedded in our culture as part of the English vernacular.

Two more books focusing on Heller and Catch-22 are scheduled for release this summer to coincide with the anniversary, including Yossarian Slept Here, by Erica Heller, the author’s daughter. In her book, Erica describes her early family life, and shares details of how her father sent the family to a New Jersey motel during the summer of 1962, so that he could write alone in New York City. She also touches on the ugly divorce that capped her parent’s 38-year marriage. As Heller’s daughter, Erica has unique insight into the man and his writing, though ironically, she has never read his most famous novel, Catch-22. “Once I read it, there’s nothing else of his to read,” she explains in an interview with USA Today. “Though he was a mixed bag, I miss him.”

How well do you know the book Catch-22? Take a quiz and find out.

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