Press Release: 2014 Shortlist

Stanford University Libraries announces shortlist for the sixth
William Saroyan International Prize for Writing (Saroyan Prize).


  • Gun Dealers' Daughter by Gina Apostol (W.W. Norton & Co.)
  • Western Avenue and Other Fictions by Fred Arroyo (The Univ. of Arizona Press)
  • Y by Marjorie Celona (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson (Bloomsbury)
  • This Is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila (Hogarth)
  • Birds of Paradise Lost by Andrew Lam (Red Hen Press)
  • Long Division by Kiese Laymon (Bolden Books, Agate)
  • The Facades by Eric Lundgren (Overlook Press)
  • A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • Huracan by Diana McCaulay (Peepal Tree Press)
  • The Translator by Nina Schuyler (Pegasus Books)
  • The Celestials by Karen Shepard (Tin House Books)
  • In the Land of Birdfishes by Rebecca Silver Slayter (HarperCollins)
  • Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith (Tin House Books)
  • Godforsaken Idaho by Shawn Vestal (Little A / New Harvest)


  • To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care
    by Cris Beam (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
    by Daniel James Brown (Viking)
  • We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust
    by Ellen Cassedy (Univ. of Nebraska Press)
  • The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code
    by Margalit Fox (HarperCollins Publishers, Ecco)
  • The Distance Between Us
         by Reyna Grande (Washington Square Press)
  • Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation
    by Yossi Klein Halevi (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Telling Our Way to the Sea: A Voyage of Discovery in the Sea of Cortez
    by Aaron Hirsh (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century
    by David Laskin (Viking)
  • River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll Amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa
    by Ben Miller  (Lookout Books, Univ. North Carolina Wilmington)
  • Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir
         by Deborah A. Miranda (Heyday)
  • The Man with the Bionic Brain: And Other Victories Over Paralysis
    by Jon Mukand (Chicago Review Press)
  • A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story
    by Qais Akbar Omar (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Slowspoke: A Unicyclist's Guide to America
    by Mark Schimmoeller (Synandra Press)
  • God's Hotel: A Doctor, A Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine
    by Victoria Sweet (Riverhead Books)
  • The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers - and the Coming Cashless Society
    by David Wolman (Da Capo Press)

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.

This year's distinguished judging panel for fiction consists of award-winning authors Heidi Durrow and Elizabeth McKenzie as well as Professor Patrick Hunt. The non-fiction panel includes award-winning author Sumbul Ali-Karamali; local politician Anne Kasten; musician and bibliophile Fritz Kasten; and Hank Saroyan, writer, performer, and nephew of William Saroyan. More information on our judges can be found here.

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

"It is Stanford University Libraries' duty and privilege to once again honor William Saroyan's literary legacy by  awarding The William Saroyan International Prize for  Writing," said Michael A. Keller, Stanford University Librarian. "The prize is a welcome opportunity to engage with a stellar team of alumni who serve as reviewers and judges, and to learn about and engage with remarkable emerging authors, all while highlighting the talents of Saroyan himself."

The Saroyan Prize was last awarded in 2012, when the fiction prize went to Daniel Orozco for his short story collection Orientation and Other Stories (Faber and Faber, 2011) and the non-fiction prize went to Elisabeth Tova Bailey for The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (Algonquin, 2010). Other notable winners include Jonathan Safran Foer in 2003 for his novel Everything is Illuminated (Houghton Mifflin, 2002). George Hagen in 2005 for his novel The Laments (Random House, 2004), Kiyo Sato in 2008 for Dandelion Through the Crack (Willow Valley Press, 2007), and Linda Himelstein in 2010 for The King of Vodka (HarperBusiness, 2009).

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 Trapeze, My Name Is Aram, Inhale & Exhale, Three 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 Highlands, The Time of Your Life, The Beautiful People, and The Human Comedy.


Contact: Sonia Lee
650-736-9538 (office)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014