“I do not write in Armenian, but I look at the world in Armenian.” These are the words of famous William Saroyan, American prose writer and playwright of Armenian descent.
The writer was born on August 31, 1908, in the city of Fresno (California) into a poor family of Armenian immigrants. Having started his career as a postman, neither he nor his parents could assume that, over time, his name would stand on a par with such prominent American writers as Hemingway, Faulkner, and Caldwell.
Despite the fact that Saroyan was born in the USA, his worldview and attitude corresponded to the essence and spirit of an Armenian. He was born and remained an Armenian all his life.
“Though I write in English, and despite the fact that I am from America, I consider myself an Armenian writer. The words I use are English, the environment I write about is American, but the soul that forces me to write is Armenian. So, I am an Armenian writer, and I deeply love the honor of belonging to a family of Armenian writers.” These are the words of the great writer about himself.
The heroes of his works have always been simple and not very happy people whom he described with warmth, compassion, and hope for the best.
William Saroyan wrote over one and a half thousand stories, twelve plays, and over ten novels. One of his best works is the novel “The Human Comedy” (1942), which is partly autobiographical.
“Remember,” said mother, “You must always share everything that you have. You must give, even when it is foolish to be wasteful. You must give to everyone you meet in life. Then, no one can rob you because if you give to a thief, he will not steal from you and will cease to be a thief,” writes Saroyan in “The Human Comedy.”
By the way, in 2016 occurred the premiere of the film “Ithaca” based on Saroyan’s novel “The Human Comedy.” It was the second American film based on this story.
Ithaca Official Trailer 1 (2016) – Tom Hanks Movie
The film was directed by famous Hollywood actress Meg Ryan and co-produced by Tom Hanks. In addition, Meg Ryan performed the role of the mother of the main character. The film also starred Alex Neustaedter, Jack Quaid, and Sam Shepard. “Hollywood Reporter” magazine had included the film in the list of the 100 most anticipated films of 2016.
In general, Saroyan wrote in a wide variety of genres and topics, starting from describing his historic homeland (“The Armenian and the Armenian”) to pacifism (“The Adventures of Wesley Jackson”). He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize (1940) for Drama (“The Time of Your Life”), which he refused, and Academy Award for Best Story (“The Human Comedy”) in 1943.
Saroyan died on May 18, 1981, in his hometown of Fresno. He was buried in Fresno. But according to his will, a part of his heart was buried in Armenia’s capital Yerevan. Thus, a part of the heart of William Saroyan now rests in the Komitas Pantheon among other great Armenians.
By the way, in 2014, the City Council of Bitlis – the hometown of Saroyan’s parents – in Southeastern Turkey approved the renaming of five streets in the historic part of the city. Among the new street names was “William Saroyan Street”.