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Joseph Heller

(1923—1999) American novelist


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(1923–1999),

New York author who served in the air force in World War II. Later he received an A.B. from New York University, an M.A. from Columbia, studied at Oxford, and taught briefly before writing Catch-22 (1961). This grotesquely comic tale of a madcap bombardier's resistance to his fanatic commander's ambition for promotion at the expense of his American squadron on a Mediterranean island satirizes military illogicality and glorification. It became enormously popular, particularly among younger readers during the Vietnam era, and its title became a catch phrase. Heller's next novel, Something Happened (1974), is a dark view of the life of a business executive, disgusted with what he does and is. Good as Gold (1979) is a long novel more in the comic vein of his first in its farcical treatment of Jewish family life and of the Washington political scene. God Knows (1984) is a lively first-person novel of the Biblical David. We Bombed in New Haven (1968) and Clevinger's Trial (1974) are plays.


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Works by Joseph Heller