William Saroyan



  • (1908 - 81) US novelist and playwright, born in Californiaof Armenian parents. In 1939 the Group Theatre's productionof Saroyan's first play, the one-act My Heart's in the Highlands,established him as one of the leading experimental dramatists of theperiod. His next play, The Time of Your Life (1939),was an innovative but accessible piece in which a group of bar-roomeccentrics discuss their lives and philosophies. The play was an enormouscommercial success and became the first drama to win both a DramaCritics' circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize. However, Saroyan turneddown the Pulitzer Prize on the grounds that material awards were dangerousto the recipient and that The Time of Your Life was "notany more good or great" than anything else he had written.

    Although Saroyan continued to write plays throughout the 1940sand 1950s, none of them captured the success of the first two. Theselater works include Hello, Out There (1942), about the lynchingof a harmless tramp, and The Cave Dwellers (1957), a strangeplay set in an abandoned theater. In 1960 Saroyan wrote Sam, theHighest Jumper of them All for the Theatre Workshop.After the failure of this play Saroyan wrote little else for the theater,concentrating on novels and autobiographical writings.