Fresno Community Celebrates William Saroyan House Museum’s 1st Anniversary

Scenes from the celebration of the William Saroyan House Museum's 1 year anniversary

FRESNO—The “Saroyan house” project is celebrating the 1st anniversary of the William Saroyan House Museum and the 111th anniversary of the birth of William Saroyan. August 31 marks the birthday anniversary of Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning Armenian-American writer William Saroyan.

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.

As a writer, Saroyan made his breakthrough in Story magazine with The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze (1934), the title taken from the nineteenth century song of the same title. The protagonist is a young, starving writer who tries to survive in a Depression-ridden society.

He published essays and memoirs, in which he depicted the people he had met on travels in the Soviet Union and Europe, such as the playwright George Bernard Shaw, the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, and Charlie Chaplin. In 1952, Saroyan published The Bicycle Rider in Beverly Hills, the first of several volumes of memoirs.

Saroyan died in Fresno, of cancer at age 71. Half of his ashes were buried in California and the remainder in Armenia at Komitas Pantheon near film director Sergei Parajanov.

His work remains popular to this day. His literature is taught in schools to all ages, and his plays are produced all over the world. His Academy Award winning screenplay “The Human Comedy” has been adapted into the motion picture “Ithaca,” directed by Meg Ryan.

“The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough. The writer who is a real writer is a rebel who never stops.”

Renaissance Foundation Armenia, a cultural and intellectual foundation, organized a small exhibition and reception, in Saroyanesque manner, to commemorate the life and work of the author.

Attendees of the exhibition included Saroyan lovers, team members, and others. The small exhibition presented not only Saroyan’s artwork, but a photo exhibition of Saroyan’s trip to Armenia, as well. The team also presented museum statistics of the first year, and future plans.

One year ago, the first and the only museum dedicated to William Saroyan opened its doors for its honorable visitors. For a year now, the museum has been welcoming and surprising guests from all over the world with its innovative technologies.

Throughout the past year, the museum has had more than 2,500 visitors and implemented various projects of different scales.

It should be noted that the creation of the museum was entirely carried out by the Renaissance Cultural and Intellectual Foundation operating in Armenia, and, this year, as in the previous three years, the Saroyan House project’s team celebrates Saroyan’s anniversary.

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