Author: Joseph Heller
First published in: 1961
The story is set during world war 2 and illustrates the ‘on-duty’ instances of the protagonist Yossarian and the other army men around him.
Catch-22 is a very common phrase used to explain a situation where either this way or that a person is trapped in the situation due to some set rules that have a catch.
Yossarian wants to get out of the war and is always trying to get the doctor to issue a medical note saying he is crazy so that he is then deemed unfit for army and sent back home but Doctor points out that if he is sane enough to figure that war is risky and threat to his life, he cannot be insane. So, that my friends, is Catch 22.
While the air force bombardier Yossarian and most of his colleagues are terrified of flying more missions, one of their colleagues Orr is always eager to fly more missions which Yossarian obviously thinks is crazy.
On top of all this their leader Colonel Cathcart is always increasing the number of missions for them to fly to please his leader, General Dreedle.
Catch 22 is a satire which illustrates the thoughts and frame of mind of armymen during wartime in an amusing way.
It was on my ‘To-be-read’ list from quite long but when I made the first attempt to read the book I could not go past 20-25 pages. What I was reading seemed absurd as I couldn’t make sense of it. I switched to another book and then picked up this one again after a month or so.
This time I tried to be patient and started reading again from first page. To my surprise, I didn’t realize when I got so engrossed in the book. The way in which the author portrays the characters and the comical way the story unfolds is so witty. The story is not in a chronological order but to me that is what made it so interesting. Characters range from Yossarian who is scared to fly more missions to Nately who is a true patriot; Milo the mess officer who leaves no stone unturned to make each transaction a business opportunity to Colonel Cathcart who constantly needs recognition from his leaders. All in all, it’s a very interesting read. There are certain points towards the end of the book where it gets emotional but the author doesn’t let the reader get into it so deep and keeps it amusing till the end.
I would say it is a must read for avid readers.
Facts from Wiki:
- It was after this novel that ‘Catch-22’ was included in English lexicon.
- The author was actually a Bombardier in US Army Air Corps