News > Pan-Armenian News > Cultural biking in memory of William Saroyan
Several activities were dedicated this year, espcially in the USA and in Armenia, to mark the 100th birth anniversary of the famous American Armenian writer William Saroyan. This autumn, the streets of Yerevan were carrying banners commemorating this centennial occasion.
Besides his unique philosophy about life, which was reflected in his writings, Saroyan was best known also for his exceptional love of nature. Biking in rural areas was one of his favourite ways of showing his dedication to environmental issues.
Sharing these values, a cultural biking journey is scheduled in Yerevan on 20th December 2008, starting at 13:00 o'clock from the newly constructed statue of William Saroyan and covering all the main streets in the capital until the Pantheon (named after Gomidas) in Yerevan, where part of the ashes of the writer is buried.
Saroyan has always promoted bicycling through his own example and through the heroes in his works.
The organizers of William Saroyan cultural biking intend to circulate to the passer bys printed material about the works of Saroyan, samples of his cultural legacy, his poems, short stories and words of wisdom. This is the best way to involve people watching the procession of the bike riders and to pay tribute to the memory of the great writer.
Those who want to hire a bike for the event can get information from the following blog: http://hvzbike.blogspot.com
Further information is available at the organizer's blog here.
Saroyan has once said: “. . . First of all, my bikes were always rebuilt second-hand bikes. They were lean, hard, tough, swift, and designed for usage. I rode them with speed and style. I found out a great deal about style form riding them. Style in writing, I mean. Style in everything. I did not ride for pleasure. I rode to get somewhere, and I don’t mean from the house on San Benito Avenue in Fresno to the public Library there. . .” (From: The Bicycle Rider in Beverly Hills pp 10-11).
Let us remember Saroyan by taking part in this well deserved journey.
Websites dedicated to William Saroyan's legacy:
William Saroyan Society website: http://www.williamsaroyansociety.org/
William Saroyan Centennial website: http://www.saroyancentennial.org/
William Saroyan Foundation website: http://www.williamsaroyanfoundation.org/
William Saroyan's biography (from Wikipedia)
William Saroyan (31 August 1908 - 18 May 1981) was an Armenian American dramatist and author. The setting of many of his stories and plays is the center of Armenian-American life in California in his native Fresno.
Saroyan was born in Fresno, California to Armenian immigrants from Bitlis, Turkey. His father, a small vineyard owner who had been educated as a Presbyterian minister, was eventually forced to take farm-laboring work. At the age of four, Saroyan was placed in the Fred Finch Orphanage in Oakland, California, together with his brother and sister, an experience he later described in his writing. Five years later, the family reunited in Fresno, where his mother, Takoohi, secured work at a cannery. Saroyan learned to type in a technical school, which he left at the age of fifteen. He continued his education on his own, supporting himself by taking odd jobs, such as working as an office manager for the San Francisco Telegraph Company.
Saroyan decided to become a writer after his mother showed him some of his father's writings. A few of his early short articles were published in Overland Monthly. His first stories appeared in the 1930s. Among these was "The Broken Wheel", written under the name Sirak Goryan and published in the Armenian journal Hairenik in 1933. Many of Saroyan's stories were based on his childhood experiences among the Armenian-American fruit growers of the San Joaquin Valley, or dealt with the rootlessness of the immigrant. The short story collection My Name is Aram (1940), an international bestseller, was about a young boy and the colorful characters of his immigrant family. It has been translated into many languages.
Saroyan's plays were drawn from deeply personal sources, and often disregarded the convention that conflict is essential to drama. My Heart's in the Highlands (1939), his first play, was a comedy about a young boy and his Armenian family. It was produced at the Guild Theatre in New York.
Saroyan is probably best remembered for his play The Time of Your Life (1939), set in a waterfront saloon in San Francisco. It won a Pulitzer Prize, which Saroyan refused on the grounds that commerce should not judge the arts; he did accept the New York Drama Critics' Circle award. The play was adapted into a 1948 film starring James Cagney.
Before the war, Saroyan worked on the screenplay of Golden Boy (1939), based on Clifford Odets's play, but he never had much success in Hollywood.
The Human Comedy (1943) is set in the fictional California town of Ithaca in the San Joaquin Valley (based on Saroyan's memories of Fresno, California), where young telegraph messenger Homer bears witness to the sorrows and joys of life during World War II.
In the novellas The Assyrian and other stories (1950) and in The Laughing Matter (1953) Saroyan mixed allegorical elements within a realistic novel. The plays Sam Ego's House (1949) and The Slaughter of the Innocents (1958) were not as successful as his prewar plays. Many of Saroyan's later plays, such as The Paris Comedy (1960), The London Comedy(1960), and Settled Out of Court (1969), premiered in Europe.
Saroyan died in Fresno at age 72. Half of his ashes were buried in California, and the remainder in Armenia.