Saroyan, William (səroiˈən) [key], 1908–81, American author, b. Fresno, Calif. Of Armenian background and extremely prolific, he created works that combine optimism, sentimentality, and a rhapsodic love of country. These include plays such as The Time of Your Life (1939; Pulitzer Prize), My Heart's in the Highlands (1939), and The Cave Dwellers (1957); novels, including The Human Comedy (1942; he won a 1943 Academy Award for the screenplay he adapted from the book) and Boys and Girls Together (1963); short-story volumes, notably The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze (1934), his first published book, and My Name is Aram (1940); and such autobiographical works as Here Comes, There Goes You Know Who (1961) and Places Where I've Done Time (1972). Saroyan fell out of fashion in the post–World War II era and, although he continued to produce masses of manuscripts, he never again captured wide popular attention.
See memoir by V. Samuelian (1985); biographies by L. Lee and B. Gifford (1984) and J. Leggett (2002); studies by D. S. Calonne (1983), E. H. Foster (1984), and N. Balakian (1998).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.