What Do I Read Next?
Peter Balakian’s book Black Dog of Fate (1997) is his story of growing up in a comfortable New Jersey suburb in the midst of a family that had survived the 1915 Turkish genocide against the Armenians—a family with experiences similar to those of Saroyan’s family. Balakian relates how he was able to get past his family’s reluctance to discuss their experiences while living in Armenia and learn about his background and family history.
Clifford Odets and Saroyan both wrote plays during the late 1930s and early 1940s, but Odets was a much more overtly political writer than Saroyan. A collection of Odets’s plays, Waiting for Lefty and Other Plays (1993), offers an overview of the work by the radical leftist playwright. The title play, about a New York City cabdrivers’ strike, was first produced in 1935.
Last Rites: The Death of William Saroyan (1982) is the journal Aram Saroyan kept during the last five weeks of his father’s life. Father and son had become estranged and the book chronicles their reconciliation.
Saroyan’s collection of short stories The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze and Other Stories (1934) was the publication that launched his career and placed him in the national literary spotlight. In these stories, Saroyan writes of characters who are Armenians, Jews, Chinese, Poles, Africans, and Irish.
The William Saroyan Reader (1958) covers the first half of the author’s career and includes selections from the early 1930s through the early 1940s. The original edition contains an introduction by Saroyan entitled ‘‘Why I Write.’’