Book title – Catch-22
Author – Joseph Heller
Publisher – Vintage Books
No. Of pages – 570
The novel starts without much fanfare and I was unsure whether I would have the patience to read through all the 570 pages of it. But I pushed on and was I glad I did that.
The novel is a kaleidoscope of genres. If there is the silliest of humour, it is balanced by profound life lessons sprinkled throughout. The tragedy of a violent war is apparent throughout.
The scene changes skilfully from silly banter between fellow soldiers to a sudden struggle for survival.
The soldiers grapple for a semblance of sanity with death waiting around the corner. They try to live their lives, enjoying the few moments of illicit pleasure with gay abandon.
In all this mayhem of war, the author expertly captures the entire gamut of human frailties and characteristics, ranging from total avarice to total innocence.
The mentions of praise on the back cover of this bulky novel includes the following one, “Not only the best novel to come out of the war but the best novel to come out of anywhere in years”, by Nelson Algren. Though one may not agree wholeheartedly with this, but there is no doubt that every serious reader should have certainly read this one, once in his/her life.