Cat’s Cradle

Kurt Vonnegut

Illustrated by Joonho Ko

Introduced by Michael Dirda

It’s the end of the world as we know it … The Folio edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle features illustrations by Joonho Ko and an introduction by Michael Dirda.

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‘One of the warmest, wisest, funniest voices to be found anywhere in fiction.’
  1. Daily Telegraph

Cat’s Cradle is one of Vonnegut’s greatest novels, a pitch-black, hilarious tale of the end of the world and the outrageous human mistakes that led to it. Korean artist Joonho Ko has created seven full-colour illustrations that feel like propaganda posters from another dimension: geometric in style and full of unsettling symmetry, they hold tiny crystals of dark humour.

Published the year after the Cuban missile crisis, Cat’s Cradle is the product of a world recovering from two devastating wars whilst in the midst of a new type of conflict. Vonnegut, who famously survived the bombing of Dresden by hiding in the meat locker of a slaughterhouse, was one of the great literary figures of the 20th century, and his sharp satirical novels – as funny as they are thought provoking – are postmodern classics.

This handsome collector’s edition features a slipcase blocked with a cat’s cradle pattern, and a striking binding also designed by Joonho Ko. In his exclusive introduction for this edition, Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Dirda looks at the legacy of an author who captured the conflicts and lunacy of the last century.

Bound in printed and blocked, soft touch laminated paper 

Set in Minion Pro 

232 pages 

Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations 

Blocked slipcase 

9½˝ x 6¼˝

Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, ‘Why, why, why?’
Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.

The research for John’s latest book – on the end of the world, no less – leads him to examine the complicated life of Dr Hoenikker, the so-called father of the atomic bomb. By all reports an absentminded eccentric, Hoenikker left behind one final surprise: Ice-nine, a lethal substance capable of flash-freezing all the world’s water in an instant. Now that the doctor is dead, the secret of Ice-nine has been passed to his three children, all of whom have fled to an obscure island in the Caribbean. Tangled in a cat’s cradle of love, religion, and poor decisions, John will bear witness to the final act of planet Earth. The future of the world has never been in a more precarious position…

‘My own feeling is that civilisation ended in World War I and we’re still trying to recover from that.’
  1. Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut was occupied with the biggest question posed by the new atomic age: once such power has been unleashed, is the end of all things inevitable? A master of approaching difficult subjects with a light touch, Vonnegut takes these foreboding concepts and tackles them with bracing satire and the kind of warm wit that makes reading about the end of the world such a pleasure. Beautifully bound and peppered with mesmerising illustrations, this is an unmissable Folio Society edition of one of Vonnegut's best.

Widely considered to be one of the most important American writers of his generation, Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis, USA in 1922. Vonnegut served in the US army in World War Two and was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. He was interned in Dresden, where he survived the bombing of the city in a meat locker of the slaughterhouse in which he was imprisoned. This experience greatly influenced Vonnegut in the writing of his most well-known work, Slaughterhouse Five (1969). Vonnegut’s first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1952, and initiated his reputation as a sharp-eyed satirist. Fourteen novels followed, including Cat’s Cradle (1963), which Vonnegut regarded to be one of his best works. In his lifetime, Vonnegut also published three short story collections, five plays, and five non-fiction works, with further collections being published after his death.

Joonho Ko is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer based in Seoul, South Korea. Born and raised in Seoul until he was 14, Joonho then ventured to Chennai in India before coming to the UK to study Illustration and Animation at Kingston University. Joonho is best known for his unique digital style, which was greatly influenced by his nomadic lifestyle and allowed him to create diverse works of art with a portable medium. His works have appeared in Refinery29, Robb Report, the Korean National Folk Museum and in designs for Orla Kiely.

Michael Dirda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary journalist, a weekly books columnist for the Washington Post, and the author of five collections of essays: Readings (2000), Bound to Please (2005), Book by Book (2006), Classics for Pleasure (2007) and Browsings (2015). He has also written the memoir An Open Book (2003) and On Conan Doyle (2012), which received an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America. His current project is a reconsideration of popular fiction during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His introductions for The Folio Society include The Great Gatsby (2013), Dune (2016), East of Eden (2017),  Atlas Shrugged (2018) and Cat’s Cradle (2022).


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