William Saroyan was born on August 31,William Saroyan was born on August 31,1908 in Fresno, California to Armenak1908 in Fresno, California to Armenakand Takoohi Saroyan, Armenianand Takoohi Saroyan, Armenianimmigrants fromimmigrants from BitlisBitlis, Ottoman Empire., Ottoman Empire.His father came to New York in 1905 andHis father came to New York in 1905 andstarted preaching in Armenian Apostolicstarted preaching in Armenian ApostolicChurches. In 1921 Saroyan attended theChurches. In 1921 Saroyan attended theTechnical School in order to learn to type.Technical School in order to learn to type.At the age of three, after his fathersAt the age of three, after his fathersdeath, Saroyan, along with his brotherdeath, Saroyan, along with his brotherand sister, was placed in an orphanage inand sister, was placed in an orphanage inOakland, California. He later went on toOakland, California. He later went on todescribe his experience in the orphanagedescribe his experience in the orphanagein his writings. Five years later, the familyin his writings. Five years later, the familyreunited in Fresno, where his mother,reunited in Fresno, where his mother,Takoohi, had already secured work at aTakoohi, had already secured work at acannery. He continued his education oncannery. He continued his education onhis own, supporting himself with jobs,his own, supporting himself with jobs,such as working as an office manager forsuch as working as an office manager forthe San Francisco Telegraph Company.the San Francisco Telegraph Company.
Saroyan decided to become awriter after his mother showedhim some of his fatherswritings. A few of his earlyshort articles were published inOverland Monthly. His firststories appeared in the 1930s.Among these was "The BrokenWheel", written under the nameSirak Goryan and published inthe Armenian journal Hairenik in1933. Many of Saroyans storieswere based on his childhoodexperiences among theArmenian-American fruitgrowers of the San JoaquinValley or dealt with the rootlessness of the immigrant. Theshort story collection My Nameis Aram (1940), an internationalbestseller, was about a youngboy and the colorful charactersof his immigrant family. It hasbeen translated into manylanguages. . In 1942 he wasposted to London in as a part ofa film unit and narrowlyavoided a court martial, whenhis novel The Adventures ofWesley Jackson (1946) turned outto be pacifist.
As a writer, Saroyan made his breakthrough in Story magazine with TheDaring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze (1934), the title taken from thenineteenth century song of the same title. The protagonist is a young,starving writer who tries to survive in a Depression-ridden society. Saroyan served in the US Army during World War II. He was stationed inAstoria, Queens, spending much of his time at the Lombardy Hotel inManhattan, far from Army personnel. In 1942, he was posted to London aspart of a film unit. He narrowly avoided a court martial when his novel,The Adventures of Wesley Jackson, was seen as advocating pacifism. Saroyan worked rapidly, hardly editing his text, and drinking andgambling away much of his earnings. From 1958 on, he mainly resided ina Paris apartment.Career
Saroyan was hired to write thescreenplay for and direct thefilm for MGM. When Louis B.Mayer balked at its length,Saroyan would notcompromise and was removedfrom the project. He thenturned the script into a novel,publishing it just prior to thefilms release. This novel isoften credited as the source forthe movie when in fact thereverse is true. The novel isthe basis for a 1983 musical ofthe same name. In the novellasThe Assyrian and other stories(1950) and in The LaughingMatter (1953) Saroyan mixedallegorical elements within arealistic novel. The plays Sam Egos House (1949) and The Slaughter of theInnocents (1958) were not as successful as his prewar plays.Many of Saroyans later plays, such as The Paris Comedy (1960),The London Comedy (1960), and Settled Out of Court (1969),premiered in Europe. Manuscripts of a number of unperformedplays are now at Stanford University with his other papers.
Books The Daring Young Man on theFlying Trapeze (1935) Inhale and Exhale (1936) Three Times Three (1936) Little Children (1937) The Trouble With Tigers (1938) Love Here Is My Hat (1938) My Name Is Aram (1940) The Human Comedy (1943) The Adventures of WesleyJackson (1946) Rock Wagram (1951) Tracys Tiger (1952) The Bicycle Rider in BeverlyHills (1952) The Laughing Matter (1953) Love (1955) Mama I Love You (1956) Papa Youre Crazy (1957) Here Comes, There Goes, YouKnow Who (1962) Gaston (1962) One Day in the Afternoon of theWorld (1964) The Man with the Heart in theHighlands and other stories (1968) Days of Life and Death and Escapeto the Moon (1970) Places Where Ive Done Time 1972(original printing possibly 1957) Chance Meetings (1978) Obituaries (1979) Births (1983) My name is Saroyan (1983) Madness in the Family (1988) Boys and Girls Together (1995)
He died in 1911 fromperitonitis, after drinking aforbidden glass of watergiven by his wife, Takoohi.Saroyan was put in anorphanage in Alameda withhis brothers. Six years laterthe family reunited inFresno, where Takoohi hadobtained work in a cannery.