- Armenian Literature, History, Religion
William Saroyan
Photographed by Paul Kalinian, 1976 ©



The bearer of this non-Armenian name with an Armenian last name was born in 1908 in Fresno, California, to a poor family of Armenian immigrants. He started as a postman, and neither he, nor his parents could have ever imagined that there will be a day, when this name will be mentioned among the American writers such as Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner, and Caldwell.

And we, Armenians, did not even supect, that somewhere across the ocean there is a man who will later become an integral part and the pride of our nation. Since his first short story published in 1933 in the Armenian-American weekly Hairenik (“Motherland”) of Boston and until his last breath he stayed strongly attached to Armenia and the Armenian theme. William Saroyan wrote more than 1,500 short stories, 12 plays, and 10 novels. One of his best works, the novel “The Human Comedy,” is partially autobiographical, and titles of his works speak for themselves: “My Heart's in the Highlands” “Andranik From Armenia,” “Bitlis,” “Armenia and Charents,” “The Armenian and the Armenian.”

Saroyan visited Armenia four times, in 1935, 1960, 1976 and 1978, and even saw his play “My Heart’s in the Highlands” in Yerevan theatre after G. Sundukyan staged by Vardan Adjemyan. The writer was deeply moved by the play, the music for which was written by Arno Babadjanyan.

“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,” said Saroyan of himself, and there are no better words to describe him, but his own.

When Saroyan died in 1981 he was buried in Fresno – his native town; but according to his will, a part of his heart was buried in far-away Armenia, at the feet of Ararat, not far from lake Van and town of Bitlis – the homeland of his parents.
Now a part of Willam Saroyan’s heart rests in peace among other notable Armenians in the Pantheon of Greats in Yerevan.



Source: Noev Kovcheg e-zine
Translated from Russian and adopted by: Isabella Armenak Ter-Hovhannisyan (Vega$)

See also:

William Saroyan's page in Russian in in Russian
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