2020 WILLIAM SAROYAN INTERNATIONAL PRIZE FOR WRITING

25 September 2019

Deadline for entries: January 31, 2020

The Stanford Libraries and the William Saroyan Foundation jointly award the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, a biennial competition for newly-published books.

The prize commemorates the life, legacy and intentions of William Saroyan – author, artist, dramatist, composer – and is intended to encourage new or emerging writers, rather than to recognize established literary figures.

Submissions are now being accepted for the 9th William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Given by Stanford Libraries in partnership with the William Saroyan Foundation, the award recognizes newly published works of fiction and nonfiction with a $5,000 award for the winner in each category. The prize is designed to encourage new or emerging writers and honor the Saroyan literary legacy of originality, vitality and stylistic innovation.

What works are eligible for the 2020 Saroyan Prize?
Works of fiction (novels, short story anthologies, or drama) or non-fiction (biography, history, or memoirs) by authors from around the world and first published during 2018-2019 are eligible for consideration for the 2020 Saroyan Prize. Works must be imprinted with either a 2018 or 2019 copyright date. Poetry will not be considered in this cycle. All entries must be predominately in English, and available for individual purchase by the general public. Works by members of The Saroyan Writing Prize Committee, members or officers of the William Saroyan Foundation, or previous winners are not eligible. Eligibility rules may be modified over time.

While all works fitting the above description are eligible, and all entries are welcome, note that the judges will be looking for works with strong literary merit that honor the Saroyan legacy. In past prize cycles, works that fell into a specific publishing sub-genre – juvenile, science fiction, Western, mystery, romance, erotic, self-help, religion, etc. – were frequently found to be outside of that legacy.

The award honors the Saroyan literary legacy. What is the Saroyan legacy or style?
Saroyan’s literary style is characterized by originality, stylistic innovation and what is often described as an “exuberant humanism”. It is this exuberance and desire to move art in new directions, rather than relevance to the particulars of Saroyan’s common settings or themes, that Saroyan Prize judges will be seeking. Of course, any artist’s work is best understood through direct experience, and judges for the Saroyan prize will make their choices based on their personal experience with Saroyan’s writings.

The prize is intended to encourage new or emerging writers. How is that defined?
Authors’ careers follow many different paths, and no single definition fits. Our judges will look at biographies and other background material to assess each submission. However, in general, authors who have published four or more books will not be considered new and emerging.

  • What if I have published other literary material such as poetry or essays, does that count towards the four book limitation?
    The four book limitation is a guideline for the Saroyan Prize Committee and for those determining whether or not they are an author that is new and emerging, no matter the genre. If you consider yourself new and emerging, please do submit your book.

What is the deadline for entry?
Entries must be received by January 31, 2020.

For entry forms and more information on the prize, visit the Saroyan Prize website: http://library.stanford.edu/saroyan.

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