Sunday December 3, 2017, the St. Mary Cultural Committee will present a program about the renowned author William Saroyan. An award-winning documentary film about the life and the works of the author will be shown, and the filmmakers will be available to answer questions. The program will start at approximately 1:00 PM, after Divine Liturgy.
The US-based Intellectual Renaissance Foundation, owned by Artur Janibekyan, the founder of the Wikimedia Armenia project, has purchased the house residence of William Saroyan (1908-1981), the 20th century world-famous US-Armenian writer and dramatist.
In a press release, the foundation says that it intends to rebuild the construction as a house museum which will host literary events and festivals for the Armenians in the US and around the world.
The Foundation is now developing and is going to publish the house-museum’s architectural plan and activities. It asks all interested individuals to join the project by submitting their interesting and new ideas (e-mail: [email protected]). “We will be happy to discuss all the proposals,” reads the press release by the foundation.
Saroyan’s private residence, based in Fresno, California, was offered for auction sale on May 4, 2015.
BITLIS, Turkey (Armenpress)—A library in Bitlis (Armenian: Paghesh), Turkey, will be named after the prominent Armenian-American author William Saroyan, Agos weekly reports.
Journalist and author Ahmet Tuglar, who is authoring the project, noted that the idea of opening a library first came to mind when a decision was made in December of the previous year to name one of the streets in Bitlis, now a predominantly Kurdish town, after the Armenian-American author.
Saroyan was born in Fresno, California to Armenian immigrants from Bitlis, who escaped the Armenian Genocide. At the age of three, after his father’s death, Saroyan was placed in an orphanage in Oakland, together with his brother and sister, an experience he later described in his writings. Five years later, the family reunited in Fresno, where his mother, Takoohi, secured work at a cannery. He continued his education on his own, supporting himself by taking odd jobs, before becoming a successful writer.
According to Ermenihaber, the order was signed by governor Orhan Ozturk, who previously opposed the initiative, saying that Saroyan “has no connection to the town”.
Renowned writer William Saroyan was born on August 31, 1908 in Fresno, California, to Armenak and Takoohi Saroyan, Armenian immigrants from Bitlis. 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 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.
The Bitlis town council has approved the renaming of five streets in this historic town in south-eastern Turkey. Among the names is “William Saroyan Street,” after the great American-Armenian writer whose ancestors came from Bitlis before 1915. Saroyan was born in Fresno but felt strong ties to his ancestral home. He visited Bitlis in 1964 and 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of that visit, Massis Post reported.
One of the champions of renaming William Saroyan Street is Barzan Serefhanoglu, whose grandfather, Adil Serefhanoglu, was the mayor of Bitlis when Saroyan visited the city. Adil Serefhanoglu showed great respect to Saroyan and paid a high price for it. After Saroyan’s departure, he was harassed by the authorities who wanted to punish him.
William Saroyan Street will now be the main street of the Sapkor district of the city, where the Saroyan family home was located. This district looks over the citadel in the city below. Many of the houses in this district still bear the dates of their construction in Armenian, Ottoman and Western numerals.
Bitlis-Co-Mayors-with-GI-Letter-and-flowers-2The Gomidas Institute congratulated the co-mayors of Bitlis, Nevin Dasdemir Dagkiran and Hüseyin Olan, as well as all members of Bitlis town council who approved the name changes unanimously.
“This was a sensitive decision,” said Ara Sarafian of the Gomidas Institute. “The people of Bitlis have expressed their pride in one of their own Armenian sons. Such sentiments could not have been expressed even a few years ago, when all positive sentiments regarding Armenians and Kurds were proscribed by the Turkish state. We have come a long way in Turkey, but there is still a long way to go.”
The other names adopted by Bitlis town council celebrate Bediüzzaman Said-i Kürdi, Kemal Fevzi, Serefhan, and Ferhat Tepe.
The renaming of William Saroyan Street is partly the result of a bridge-building operation the Gomidas Institute initiated in 2013 – before the current co-mayors and town council were even elected. The Institute’s efforts resulted in increased contacts, a public exhibition dedicated to the Armenians of Bitlis before 1915 – an exhibition which was shown in Bitlis and Fresno, California – as well as other projects still underway.
The Gomidas Institute’s work in Bitlis has been possible with the help of the Turkish Human Rights’ Association (IHD), the Bitlis Bar Association, the Armenian Studies Program at California State University (Fresno), as well as private individuals.