The Stanford University 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 2016 Saroyan Prize for books published in 2014 and 2015. The deadline for entries is January 29, 2016.
Frequently asked questions
What works are eligible for the 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 2014-2015 are eligible for consideration. Works must be imprinted with either a 2014 or 2015 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 at the Stanford University Libraries on or before January 29, 2016.
What materials must I submit to be considered for the prize?
A complete entry, consisting of the materials listed below, is required for consideration.
- A completed entry form, available here.
- Five copies of the publication (or PDF file if submitting an e-book).
- A $50 non-refundable entry fee. Payment may be made using Visa, MasterCard or American Express at the above website, or by check. Checks should be made payable to Stanford University/Saroyan Writing Prize, and must indicate the title(s) of book(s) being submitted. Multiple entries may be paid with one check.
What is the address for submission of entries?
Administrator of the Saroyan Prize
Stanford University Libraries
557 Escondido Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6004
Must the publisher make the entry?
No, anyone (including the author) may submit an eligible entry.
Do you accept books that have been published outside of the United States?
Yes, we accept books that have been published from publishers in any country around the world.
Are self-published books eligible?
Yes, self-published books are eligible as long as they are available for individual purchase by the general public.
Are electronic books eligible?
Yes, books published electronically are eligible, assuming they are in a fixed state (such as a PDF) and readily available for purchase by the public. You may save a copy of your work on a flash drive and send it with your entry form and entry fee to the address above. Or, once you have submitted your form and entry fee, you may email the file directly to Sonia Lee.
Are translations eligible?
No, English translations of previously published foreign works are not eligible.
What is your Tax ID Number (TIN)?
I need a copy of your W-9 form to process a check for the entry fee. Where can I find the form?
You may find Stanford's W-9 form here.
May I get my entry or entry fee back after I submit it to the Prize competition?
Entries are not returnable or refundable under any circumstance.
When will the winners be announced?
The winners will be announced in the summer of 2016.
How can I support the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing?
Individuals may encourage authors and publishers to submit excellent works for the competition. Individuals affiliated with Stanford University may also be eligible to help screen entries in early 2016. Please contact Sonia Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information about volunteering.
Administration of the prize also involves significant expense, and monetary support is always greatly appreciated. Tax-deductible cash gifts to the Stanford Libraries are, of course, always appreciated and can be directed specifically to the Saroyan Prize.
Who can I contact with further questions?
Please direct questions to Sonia Lee, email@example.com or 650-736-9538.