The Best English-Language Fiction of the Twentieth Century
A Composite List and Ranking
by Brian Kunde


<- Heller, Joseph, 1923-1999.
         American author of novels, short fiction and plays of a generally satirical slant, born in Brooklyn, New York to Russian Jewish parents. His experiences in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II provided grist for his most famous novel.
  • <- Catch-22. 1961.
             The experiences of members of the fictional 256th Air Corps bombing squadron, based on the island of Pianosa, Italy, as they serve out their enlistments. The focus is on Captain John Yossarian, but events are described from the viewpoints of several characters, and jump back and forth in time. Throughout the men are bedeviled by a supposed military rule dubbed "Catch-22," fictitious even in the context of the novel, used to thwart rationality. Specifically, any traumatized airman can be excused from missions on grounds of insanity, but has to request the exemption an action then deemed proof of sanity. For much of its course the story plays as black comedy, but towards the end it unveils the full horrors of war. Nominated for the National Book Award in 1962. Adapted to film in 1970 and stage in 1971 (by Heller himself) and 2007 (based on Heller's earlier version); a pilot for a television series was made in 1973. Followed by a late sequel, Closing Time (1994).

Posted Dec. 4, 2013, and last updated Dec. 4, 2013.
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Published by Fleabonnet Press.
The source list data is public domain.
Additional material © 1999-2013 by Brian Kunde.