11/25/1998 AT 12:00 AM EST
Joseph Heller, 76, author of the 1961 classic novel "Catch-22," died on Sunday at his East Hampton, N.Y., home. The cause of death was a heart attack. The satirical anti-war novel, which was loosely based on Heller's experiences in World War II as an Air Force fighter, introduced the phrase "catch-22" to the American vocabulary, sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. and was made into a 1970 film. Following the book's release, Heller wrote five subsequent novels, including "Closing Time," a sequel to "Catch-22," and a nonfiction account of his experiences with a paralyzing disorder in the '80s. "Oh, God, how terrible," Kurt Vonnegut told the Associated Press on Monday. "This is a calamity for American letters."