Joseph Heller (May 1, 1923 – December 12, 1999) was an American satirical novelist, short story writer and playwright. He wrote the influential novel Catch-22 about American servicemen during World War II. The title of this work entered the English lexicon to refer to absurd, no-win choices, particularly in situations in which the desired outcome of the choice is an impossibility, and regardless of choice, the same negative outcome is a certainty. Heller is widely regarded as one of the best post-World War II satirists. Although he is remembered primarily for Catch-22, his other works center on the lives of various members of the middle class and remain exemplars of modern satire.
Joseph Heller was born in Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, the son of poor Jewish parents, Lena and Isaac Donald Heller, from Russia. Even as a child, he loved to write; as a teenager, he wrote a story about the Russian invasion of Finland and sent it to New York Daily News, which rejected it. At least one scholar suggests that he knew that he wanted to become a writer, after recalling that he received a children's version of the Iliad when he was ten. After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School...