Barrage of titles set to mark Catch-22's 50th anniversary

Barrage of titles set to mark Catch-22's 50th anniversary

Vintage is preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Joseph Heller’s absurdist classic Catch-22.

Anniversary plans for the novel, inspired by Heller’s time as a bombardier in the Second World War, include a new-look Vintage Classics hardback and paperback edition. The paperback has just been released, and the hardback will follow on 6th October.

The hardback will include Heller’s chart of characters and plot for the novel, as well as images of pages from the original manuscript, and an essay by Heller about writing the satirical wartime novel. Reviews by authors including Norman Mailer, Anthony Burgess and Christopher Hitchens will sit alongside an introduction by Howard Jacobson, which also features in the paperback.

Editor Laura Hassan said: “We felt that the 50th anniversary was the perfect opportunity to celebrate the significance and power of this landmark book, and it’s also a chance to reach a new, wider audience for Catch-22.

Designer Kris Potter said he incorporated the silhouettes of B25 bombers from the book on the hardback version, “one in a different colour facing the opposite direction hinting at the mental state of [main character] Yossarian”. The book will be BBC Radio 4’s “Book at Bedtime” in October, and a 16-sheet London Underground advertising campaign will run over the summer. 

Meanwhile, Vintage editor Victoria Murray-Browne has acquired Yossarian Slept Here, a memoir by Heller’s daughter, Erica. Murray-Browne bought UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, to the title through Simon & Schuster US. Murray-Browne said she expects it will appeal to fans of Catch-22, as well as those “discovering Heller for the first time”. It will be published on 6th October in paperback and as an e-book.