Cummings Foundation Grant Recipient
Bucknell University Press


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By Nona Balakian

This is the first interpretation of the works of William Saroyan in their continuous development and in the context of his life. Nona Balakian traces Saroyan's path from the ethnic-oriented writing of an immigrant orphan born in Armenia and brought up in Fresno, California, to a full identification with the American character and spirit of the era in which he made himself known. She presents him as a living poet/storyteller/theatrical iconoclast, and she highlights the innovations he brought to the writing of his time.

More than a book on Saroyan, Balakian reconstructs the total climate of the era in which Saroyan's varied talents emerged, and eventually reveals his inability to cope with the post-World War II world. Waiting like a pre-Beckett character for a future that never was to be, Saroyan used his reminiscences of the past in quite a different way from Proust, running the memories of an average man on a bicycle rather than as an aristocrat a cloistered abode.

Bucknell University Press (1998)