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News Release

August 20, 2007


Cynthia Haven, News Service: (650) 724-6184,

Sonia Lee, Administrator of the Saroyan Prize Competition: (650) 736-9538,

Saroyan International Prize for 2008 linked with writer's centennial

The third William Saroyan International Prize for Writing (also known as the Saroyan Prize) will coincide with the California writer's centennial celebrations in 2008. The $12,500 biennial prize, awarded for fiction and non-fiction, is sponsored by Stanford University Libraries in partnership with the William Saroyan Foundation.

Entries must be received on or before January 31, 2008. The English language works must be available for purchase in book form by the general public and published during the 2005-2007 period. The judges will consider literary fiction (including novels, short story collections and drama) and literary non-fiction (biography, history and memoirs) of any length. They will be looking for strong literary merit that honors the Saroyan legacy, with particular interest in non-fiction in the Saroyan tradition—memoirs, portraits and excursions into neighborhood and community. Winners will be publicly recognized at the centennial celebrations on Sept. 5, 2008. Official entry forms and rules are available at

The first William Saroyan International Prize for Writing was awarded in 2003 to Jonathan Safran Foer for his novel Everything is Illuminated (Houghton Mifflin, 2002). The second Saroyan Prize, awarded in 2005, was the first to be offered for both fiction and non-fiction. George Hagen received the fiction prize for his novel The Laments (Random House, 2004); the non-fiction prize went to Mark Arax and Rick Wartzman for The King of California (Public Affairs, 2005).

The William Saroyan Foundation, officially founded by Saroyan in 1966, decided in 1990 to bring together the entire literary estate into a single archive. The trustees eventually offered Stanford University the assembled Saroyan literary collection.

"The Saroyan Prize is an integral part of the library's ongoing and active involvement with the Saroyan archive, but it also provides a wonderful opportunity for Stanford students and alumni, as well as literati everywhere, to interact actively with the emerging literary figures of our time," said Michael A. Keller, Stanford University Librarian. "We are particularly pleased to be offering the prize during this centennial celebration of Saroyan's birth, when so much attention is being given to Saroyan's life and work."

"The Saroyan Foundation is pleased to be involved in fulfilling Saroyan's dream of establishing a writing prize to encourage and perpetuate the art he so loved," said Haig Mardikian, president of the William Saroyan Foundation. "Saroyan not only had a great passion for writing, he also was an accomplished visual abstract artist; so it is particularly fitting that this award is being granted during the Saroyan centennial celebrations where we are commemorating many of Saroyan's artistic achievements."

The Fresno-born Saroyan, an American writer and playwright, was a Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award winner best known for his short stories about humorous experiences of immigrant families and children in California. Much of Saroyan's work is clearly autobiographical, although similar in style and technique to fiction. Saroyan was the fourth child of Armenian immigrants. He battled his way through poverty and rose to literary prominence in the early 1930s when national magazines began publishing his short stories, including "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze," "My Name Is Aram," "Inhale & Exhale," "Three Times Three" and "Peace, It's Wonderful." Saroyan wrote plays for Broadway and screenplays for Hollywood, including My Heart's in the Highlands, The Time of Your Life, The Beautiful People and The Human Comedy.



Mimi Calter, Executive Assistant to the University Librarian: (650) 725-5813,

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