“I didn’t earn one dollar by any means other than writing… I have never been subsidized. I have never accepted money connected with a literary prize or award. Once I was urged by friends to file an application for a Guggenheim Fellowship … My application was turned down and I began to breathe freely again.”
The words come not from William Saroyan, but from his protagonist, a young, starving writer in his 1934 story, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.
Nonetheless, it is a teensy bit ironic that a writing award has been established in Saroyan’s name, given these well-known lines. But then, he bagged a Pulitzer and Oscar, too – so irony abounds.
Here are the details of the fifth biennial William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, sponsored by the Stanford University Libraries. The libraries house the William Saroyan Collection, which includes manuscripts, personal journals, correspondence, drawings and other Saroyiana.
The most important part: deadline is Jan. 31, 2012.
A prize of $5,000 will be awarded in each category – fiction and non-fiction – to encourage new or emerging writers.
Entry forms and rules for the Saroyan Prize are available online.
The fiction category includes novels, short story collections and drama. Literary non-fiction of any length will be considered for the Saroyan non-fiction prize. Judges will be looking for strong literary merit that honors the Saroyan tradition, particularly in non-fiction memoirs, portraits and excursions into neighborhood and community.
Entries in either category are limited to English language books that are available for individual purchase by the general public.
The Saroyan Prize was last awarded in 2010, when the fiction prize went to Rivka Galchen for her novel Atmospheric Disturbances and the non-fiction prize went to Linda Himelstein for The King of Vodka. Other notable winners include Jonathan Safran Foer in 2003 for his novel Everything is Illuminated. George Hagen won in 2005 for his novel The Laments, and Kiyo Sato won in 2008 for her memoir Dandelion Through the Crack.
Go ahead. Try. $5,000 buys an awful lot of kitty litter.