October 3, 2017

Submissions now being accepted for the 2018 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

William Saroyan

New and emerging writers are encouraged to enter the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, which was established by the Stanford Libraries and the William Saroyan Foundation to honor the originality, vitality and stylistic innovation of Saroyan himself. This year marks the eighth installment of the prize, and $5,000 will again be awarded to the winners in both the fiction and non-fiction categories.

Stanford Libraries holds the Saroyan Prize every other year. The 2016 winners were T. Geronimo Johnson (Welcome to Braggsville, William Morrow, 2015) for fiction and Lori Jakiela (Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe, Atticus Books, 2015) for the non-fiction category.

The prize also engages over 200 Stanford alumni who participate as readers and judges. “Each Saroyan Prize is a new opportunity not only to discover the inspiring work of emerging authors, but also to interact with our engaged and enthusiastic alumni volunteers,” said Michael Keller, university librarian at Stanford.

William 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 other 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, most notably The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze. Published collections of those stories include, My Name Is Aram, Inhale & Exhale, Three Times Three, and Peace, It’s Wonderful.

Saroyan also had success as a playwright on Broadway and a writer of screenplays in Hollywood. His notable successes include: My Heart’s in the Highlands, The Time of Your Life, The Beautiful People, and The Human Comedy. The Time of Your Life was awarded the Pulitzer.

Stanford Libraries acquired, as a gift, the personal archive of William Saroyan in 1996. The archive consists of more than 900 boxes of manuscripts, diaries, personal effects, contracts and letters, offering literary scholars and historians a rare glimpse of the famed California writer professional and personal life. 

Eligibility for the Saroyan Prize in fiction includes novels, short story collections, and drama. Literary non-fiction of any length is eligible for consideration for the non-fiction prize, most particularly writing in the Saroyan tradition: memoirs, portraits and excursions into neighborhood and community. Entries in either category are limited to English language publications that are available for individual purchase by the general public. Entries must be received on or before January 31, 2018. The official entry forms and rules are available on the Saroyan Prize website.

The William Saroyan Foundation was founded by the author on December 30, 1966 and remains active under a Board of Trustees. Commencing in 1990, the Trustees set a goal of bringing together into one single archive his entire literary estate. A decision was finally made by the Trustees to offer Stanford University the assembled Saroyan Literary Collection with provisions that would safeguard in perpetuity one of the rare treasure troves in American literature, carrying on the legacy of Fresno, California’s own native son, William Saroyan.