What do William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Roddy Doyle and Frank McCourt have in common? They have all collaborated, in one way or another, in a conspiracy of mirth, a mystery titled Yeats Is Dead! And on June 16—the day christened Bloomsday, after James Joyce's Ulysses—Knopf will publish the unique collaboration to help raise funds to aid the work of both the Irish and American chapters of Amnesty International.

It all started in 1997 when the Irish division of Amnesty International approached Dublin writer Joseph O'Connor to edit a comic anthology.

"The idea was to assemble, for fundraising purposes, the best and most amusing work we could find by modern Irish writers," said O'Connor, also a contributor to the volume. Yeats Is Dead is a murder yarn consecutively crafted by 15 writers, each contributing a chapter; it begins with Doyle and ends with McCourt.

"The title of the book," continued O'Connor, "refers to an invented last novel by James Joyce of the same name. It is a comic caper in which all the characters are trying to get their hands on the manuscript of the lost Joyce masterwork. Along the way, the manuscript gets stolen, thrown in the trash, rescued, forged, half-eaten by rats and stolen again. So we are not talking Herman Melville here. But maybe that's good."

Yeats Is Dead!, which was first published in the U.K. last year by Jonathan Cape, came to America through a partnership between Amnesty International's Irish and U.S. chapters. Helen Garrett, advertising/marketing director of Amnesty International U.S.A., explained that Amnesty's U.S. section will receive 50% of the North American royalties, with Amnesty Ireland getting the other half.

Paul Kozlowski, Knopf's marketing director, said the company snatched the project up at auction when it was shopped around last year and is putting a tremendous amount of promotion behind its 75,000-copy first printing. On Monday, June 11, Frank McCourt, Irish actor Gabriel Byrne and a cast of Irish actors and musicians from the Irish Repertory Theatre will be featured at a reading at the New School in New York City, followed by another reading the next day in Washington, D.C., at Fado Irish Pub, featuring WRC-TV celebrity Pat Collins, actress Terry Donnelly and Sean O'Huiginn, Irish ambassador to the United States. Paul Hill of the Guilford Four—who owes his freedom in part to Amnesty International's intervention—will be attending both events.