Heller, Joseph

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Heller, Joseph

Joseph Heller, 1923–99, American writer, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Heller is best known for his first novel, Catch-22 (1961). Set in World War II, it is a darkly humorous commentary on the illogic of war and bureaucracy. The title, which refers to an inescapable double bind, has entered the language. Heller dramatized his novel in 1971 and published a sequel, Closing Time, in 1994. His other works include the play We Bombed in New Haven (1967); the novels Something Happened (1974), Good As Gold (1979), God Knows (1984), and Picture This (1989); and the memoir Now and Then (1998). From his earliest writing days to his later career, Heller also wrote short stores, many of them included in Catch as Catch Can (2003).

See memoir by his daughter, E. Heller (2011); biography by T. Daugherty (2011); studies by R. Merrill (1987) and D. Seed (1989).

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