William Saroyan (August 31, 1908 – May 18, 1981) was an American dramatist and author. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1940, and in 1943 won the Academy Award for Best Story for the film adaptation of his novel The Human Comedy.
An Armenian American, Saroyan wrote extensively about the Armenian immigrant life in California. Many of his stories and plays are set in his native Fresno. Some of his best-known works are The Time of Your Life, My Name Is Aram and My Heart’s in the Highlands.
He is recognized as “one of the most prominent literary figures of the mid-20th century.” Stephen Fry describes Saroyan as “one of the most underrated writers of the [20th] century.” Fry suggests that “he takes his place naturally alongside Hemingway, Steinbeck and Faulkner.”
Saroyan’s advice to a young writer was:
“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”.
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