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      William Saroyan International Prize for Writing


July 13, 2008

Mimi Calter, Stanford University Libraries & Academic Information Resources:
(650) 735-3335,

Finalists Announced for 2008 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Award Coincides with Saroyan Centennial Celebrations

Stanford University Libraries, in partnership with the William Saroyan Foundation, announced today the finalists for the third William Saroyan International Prize for Writing (Saroyan Prize).


Dandelion Through the Crack
by Kiyo Sato

The Understory
by Pamela Erens
The History of Love
by Nicole Krauss
Ticket to Exile: A Memoir
by Adam David Miller
Dead Boys
by Richard Lange

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 $12,500 will be awarded in each category, and the prize winners will be recognized publicly during Stanford's Saroyan Centennial celebrations on September 5, 2008. Information on the of the day's events can be found online at

This year's distinguished judging panel for fiction consisted of Geoffry Burn, Director of Stanford University Press; bestselling author Bo Caldwell; and Professor Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht. The non-fiction panel included Keith Devlin, Executive Director at Stanford University's Center for the Study of Language and Information; clinical psychologist Ginger Rhodes, noted author Richard Rhodes; and Hank Saroyan, writer, performer, and nephew of William Saroyan. More information on our judges can be found at

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.

"The Saroyan Prize is an integral part of the library's ongoing and active involvement with the Saroyan archive, but it also provides a wonderful opportunity for Stanford students and alumni, as well as literati everywhere, to interact actively with the emerging literary figures of our time." said Michael A. Keller, Stanford University Librarian. "Such interaction is a distinguishing feature of a Stanford education. We are particularly pleased to be offering the prize during this centennial celebration of Saroyan's birth, when so much attention is being given to Saroyan's life and work."

The first William Saroyan International Prize for Writing was awarded in 2003 to Jonathan Safran Foer for his novel Everything is Illuminated (Houghton Mifflin, 2002). The second Saroyan Prize, awarded in 2005, was the first to be offered for both fiction and non-fiction. The fiction prize was awarded to George Hagen for his novel The Laments (Random House, 2004); the non-fiction prize went to Mark Arax and Rick Wartzman for The King of California (Public Affairs, 2005).

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.


The William Saroyan Foundation was officially founded by the author on December 30, 1966. Since then, distinguished professors, business executives and high-ranking government officials have accepted appointments to the Foundation's 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.

Stanford University Libraries & Academic Information Resources supports the teaching, learning and research mandates of the University through delivery of bibliographic and other information resources and services to faculty, students and staff. It is tackling the challenges of the digital age while continuing the development, preservation and conservation of its extensive print, media and manuscript collections.

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