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May 2, 2018

Stanford Libraries announces shortlist for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

William Saroyan

Thirty authors and their recent works have been selected to proceed to the next round of review for the eighth William Saroyan International Prize for Writing  hosted by Stanford Libraries.  This year, 204 submissions were eligible for consideration, 130 fiction and 74 non-fiction titles.  All 204 books were read by a volunteer corps of 175 individuals and are now under review by a distinguished judging panel. Fiction judges include award-winning authors Minal Hajratwala and Elizabeth McKenzie; and historian and author Abby Smith Rumsey. Non-fiction judges are author and 2005 Saroyan Prize winner, Mark Arax; Hank Saroyan, writer, performer, and nephew of William Saroyan; and Barbara Warnock. More information on our judges can be found on the Saroyan Prize website.

The awards are intended to encourage new or emerging writers and honor the Saroyan literary legacy of originality, vitality and stylistic innovation. The Saroyan Prize recognizes newly published works of both fiction and non-fiction. A prize of $5,000 will be awarded in each category. Winners and finalists will be announced this summer.

In alphabetical order by author's last name, the shortlist for the 2018 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing is: 


  • The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead (Ecco)
         by Chanelle Benz
  •  Are You Here For What I’m Here For? (Bellevue Literary Press)
         by Brian Booker

  • The Traders (Black Lawrence Press)
         by Scott Shibuya Brown
  • The Hearts of Men (Ecco)
         by Nickolas Butler
  • In the Distance (Coffee House Press)
         by Hernan Diaz
  • Native Believer (Akashic Books)
         by Ali Eteraz

  • The Earth Cries Out (Penguin Random House NZ)
         by Bonnie Etherington
  • Go Home (Knut House Press)
         by Sohrab Homi Fracis
  • The Loss of All Lost Things (Elixir Press)
         by Amina Gautier
  • Fen (Graywolf Press)
         by Daisy Johnson
  • Grace (Little, Brown and Company)
         by Paul Lynch
  • The Truth About Me (WTAW Press)
         by Louise Marburg
  • Desert Boys (Picador)
         by Chris McCormick
  • Lucky Boy (G.P Putnam’s Sons)
         by Shanthi Sekaran
  • No One Is Coming to Save Us (Ecco)
         by Stephanie Powell Watts


  • Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste (Penguin Books)
    by Bianca Bosker
  • No Relation (Black Lawrence Press)
    by Paula Carter
  • Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve (HarperCollins Publishers)
    by Lenora Chu
  • Juliet’s Answer, A Memoir (Simon & Schuster Canada)
    by Glenn Dixon
  • What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen (Little, Brown and Company)
         by Kate Fagan
  • The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone (Picador)
    by Olivia Laing
  • The Vegetarian’s Guide to Eating Meat: A Young Woman’s Search for Ethical Food (Greystone Books)
    by Marissa Landrigan
  • Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years (Ecco)
    by David Litt
  • On Trails (Simon & Schuster)
    by Robert Moor
  • Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here (Graywolf Press)
         by Angela Palm
  • City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp (Picador)
    by Ben Rawlence
  • Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim (Arcade Publishing)
    by Sabeeha Rehman
  • The People Elsewhere: Unbound Journeys with the Storytellers of Myanmar (Viking)
    by Lucas Stewart
  • Shakespeare in Swahililand: In Search of a Global Poet (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
    by Edward Wilson-Lee
  • Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction (Greystone Books)
    by Britt Wray


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. "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.

Literary fiction, including novels, short story collections, and drama, are eligible for the fiction prize. Literary non-fiction of any length is eligible 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.

William Saroyan, an American writer and playwright, is 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, such as The Daring Young Man On The Flying TrapezeMy Name Is AramInhale & ExhaleThree Times Three, and Peace, It's Wonderful. Saroyan soon moved on to writing plays for Broadway and screenplays for Hollywood, including: My Heart's in the HighlandsThe Time of Your LifeThe Beautiful People, and The Human Comedy.


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