Joseph Heller was an American satirical novelist, short story writer, and playwright. He was born on May 1st, 1923 in New York. After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1941, Heller spent the next year working as a blacksmith's apprentice, a messenger boy, and a filing clerk. In 1942, at age 19, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. Two years later he was sent to the Italian Front, where he flew 60 combat missions as a B-25 bombardier.
In 1949, he received his M.A. in English from Columbia University. Following his graduation, he spent a year as a Fulbright scholar in St Catherine's Society in the University of Oxford in England (1949–50), and, after returning home, he taught composition at Pennsylvania State University for two years (1950–52). In 1952-1958 he was writing advertising articles for «Times» and «Esquire». In 1961 Heller started teaching fiction and dramatic writing at Yale. His first works were published in «The Atlantic Monthly» magazine and «Esquire».
Joseph Heller started working on his «Catch-22» in 1953 and finished the novel in 1961. The book marked the beginning of the antiwar genre along with Thomas Pynchon’s «Gravity's rainbow» and Kurt Vonnegut’s «Slaughterhouse Five». The phrase "Catch-22" has entered the English language, referring to a type of unsolvable logic puzzle sometimes called a double bind.
Other Heller’s works are: «Something Happened» (1974), «Good as Gold» (1979), «God Knows» (1984), «No Laughing Matter» (1986), «Picture This» (1988), «Closing Time» (1994), «Portrait Of An Artist, As An Old Man» (2000). His work «We bombed in New Haven» (1969) was played 86 times on Broadway.
Heller's use of anachronism reflects the disordered nature of contemporary existence.
Heller died of a heart attack on December 12, 1999, at his East Hampton, New York, home.