(from Armenia, 8/31/18.)
“Although I write in English, and despite the fact that I’m from America, I consider myself an Armenian writer. The words I use are in English, the surroundings I write about are American, but the soul, which makes me write, is Armenian. This means I am an Armenian writer and deeply love the honor of being a part of the family of Armenian wrtiters.”
August 31 marks the 110th birthday anniversary of Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning Armenian-American writer William Saroyan.
The writer’s anniversary will see the inauguration of his house museum in Fresno. The grand opening event will be open to the public and held on the campus of California State University of Fresno. A documentary, musical performances of songs written by Saroyan, a recitation of his writings, and remarks by the founder and board members of the foundation will be part of the event. Two of the songs will be a debut performance, having never been played for the public.
William Saroyan was born on August 31, 1908 in Fresno, California to Armenak and Takoohi Saroyan, Armenian immigrants from Bitlis, Ottoman Empire. His father came to New York in 1905 and started preaching in Armenian Apostolic Churches.
At the age of three, after his father’s death, Saroyan, along with his brother and sister, was placed in an orphanage in Oakland, California. Five years later, the family reunited in Fresno.
Saroyan decided to become a writer after his mother showed him some of his father’s writings. A few of his early short articles were published in Overland Monthly. His first stories appeared in the 1930s.
Among these was “The Broken Wheel”, written under the name Sirak Goryan and published in the Armenian journal Hairenik in 1933. Many of Saroyan’s stories were based on his childhood experiences among the Armenian-American fruit growers of the San Joaquin Valley or dealt with the rootlessness of the immigrant. The short story collection My Name is Aram (1940), an international bestseller, was about a young boy and the colorful characters of his immigrant family. It has been translated into many languages.