77 Best William Saroyan Quotes from the Pulitzer Prize Winner

William Saroyan, born in Fresno, California in 1908, emerged as a distinguished U.S. writer during the Depression, illuminating optimism amidst hardship.

The son of an Armenian immigrant, Saroyan departed from formal education at 15, opting for self-learning through voracious reading and writing.

His early pieces like “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze” (1934) showcased his talent.

In 1940, he notably turned down the Pulitzer Prize for “The Time of Your Life”, feeling it wasn’t his paramount work.

William Saroyan Quotes

Drawing inspiration from personal experiences, his works frequently harkened back to his youth.

Central to his stories was the unwavering belief in humanity’s innate goodness. Although

Saroyan relocated to Paris post-1958, his influential memoirs continued to offer profound insights into his journey and musings.

Here is an amazing collection of best quotes by William Saroyan.

Best William Saroyan Quotes


What a lonely and silly thing it is to be an Armenian writer in America. ~ William Saroyan.


You must not be unkind, especially when it happens that you’re right. ~ William Saroyan.


I am enormously wise and abysmally ignorant. ~ William Saroyan.

It takes a lot of rehearsing for a man to be himself. ~ William Saroyan.

People is all everything is, all it has ever been, all it can ever be. ~ William Saroyan.


When I began to wait to live I really began to wait to die. ~ William Saroyan.

I’m not the kind of guy to knock at a door and then when the door is opened not go in. ~ William Saroyan.

Human memory works its own wheel, and stops where it will, entirely without reference to the last stop, and with no connection with the next. ~ William Saroyan.


The best that can be said for anybody is probably that you misunderstood him favorably. ~ William Saroyan.

I don’t have a name and I don’t have a plot. I have the typewriter and I have white paper and I have me, and that should add up to a novel. ~ William Saroyan.

What can a man do to move along in some kind of grace through his days and years? ~ William Saroyan.

Even after you’ve won fame and fortune, every time you write you’ve got to write, there’s no shortcut, you have to start your career all over again. ~ William Saroyan.

There’s a pretty woman for every lucky man in the world: every man in the world is a lucky man if he only knew it, so why waste time? ~ William Saroyan.

Cowards are nice, they’re interesting, they’re gentle, they wouldn’t think of shooting down people in a parade from a tower. They want to live, so they can see their kids. They’re very brave. ~ William Saroyan.


The order I found was the order of disorder. ~ William Saroyan.

Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed. ~ William Saroyan.

Top William Saroyan Quotes

Two years ago your father died, Ulysses. But as long as we are alive, as long as we are together, as long as two of us are left, and remember him, nothing in the world can take him from us. ~ William Saroyan.


The writer who is a real writer is a rebel who never stops. ~ William Saroyan.

I have managed to conceal my madness fairly effectively, and as far as I know it hasn’t hurt anybody badly, for which I am grateful. ~ William Saroyan.

No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does. Arrival in San Francisco is an experience in living. ~ William Saroyan.

Christmas is sights, especially the sights of Christmas reflected in the eyes of a child. ~ William Saroyan.


Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. ~ William Saroyan.

Doctors don’t know everything really. They understand matter, not spirit. And you and I live in the spirit. ~ William Saroyan.

Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. ~ William Saroyan.

Wise William Saroyan Quotes

Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart. ~ William Saroyan.


Every man in the world is better than someone else and not as good someone else. ~ William Saroyan.

Sometimes the most intelligent thing is not to do anything, certainly nothing loaded with the imbecility of emotionality. ~ William Saroyan.

The greatest happiness you can have is knowing that you do not necessarily require happiness. ~ William Saroyan.

Human greatness is a rather difficult thing to account for, and more often than not one is mistaken in one’s hunches about somebody one has met. ~ William Saroyan.

All things lie dark in possibility. ~ William Saroyan.


I can’t hate for long. It isn’t worth it. ~ William Saroyan.

I do not know what makes a writer, but it probably isn’t happiness. ~ William Saroyan.

I believe that time, with its infinite understanding, will one day forgive me. ~ William Saroyan.

It is impossible not to notice that our world is tormented by failure, hate, guilt, and fear. ~ William Saroyan.

In the end, today is forever, yesterday is still today, and tomorrow is already today. ~ William Saroyan.


I care so much about everything that I care about nothing. ~ William Saroyan.

You write a hit play the same way you write a flop. ~ William Saroyan.

Popular William Saroyan Quotes

The people you hate, well, this is the question about such people: why do you hate them? ~ William Saroyan.

Think before you speak, think twice before you shout, think three times before you go mad. ~ William Saroyan.

It is simply in the nature of Armenian to study, to learn, to question, to speculate, to discover, to invent, to revise, to restore, to preserve, to make, and to give. ~ William Saroyan.


Kids are always the only future the human race has. ~ William Saroyan.

All writers are discontent. That’s because they’re aware of a potential and believe they’re not reaching it. ~ William Saroyan.

Genius is play, and man’s capacity for achieving genius is infinite, and many may achieve genius only through play. ~ William Saroyan.

A man’s ethnic identity has more to do with a personal awareness than with geography. ~ William Saroyan.

What can I tell you, except the stupid little I know? ~ William Saroyan.


Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough. ~ William Saroyan.

Of all the things I love to taste, sweetest is the kiss of love. ~ William Saroyan.

Art is what is irresistible. ~ William Saroyan.

I don’t think my writing is sentimental, although it is a very sentimental thing to be a human being. ~ William Saroyan.

Every man is correct in asking God why he is stuck with himself, and his rotten luck. ~ William Saroyan.


Live, for this is the time of your life. ~ William Saroyan.

In the time of your life, live-so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. ~ William Saroyan.

Famous William Saroyan Quotes

San Francisco is a world to explore. It is a place where the heart can go on a delightful adventure. ~ William Saroyan.

We are not forced into unpleasant activities. We either allow them to come about or we encourage them to come about. ~ William Saroyan.


People are people. Don’t be afraid of them. ~ William Saroyan.

Be grateful for yourself…be thankful. ~ William Saroyan.

To Armenians, half Armenians, quarter Armenians, and one-eight Armenians. Sixteen and thirty-second Armenians, and other winners, are likelier to be happy with a useful book. ~ William Saroyan.

We get very little wisdom from success, you know. ~ William Saroyan.

The mad also laugh, or is that what Freud and the others discovered perhaps, that only the mad laugh? ~ William Saroyan.


Nothing good ever ends. ~ William Saroyan.

The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind. ~ William Saroyan.

If you’re alive, you can’t be bored in San Francisco. If you’re not alive, San Francisco will bring you to life. ~ William Saroyan.

Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough. ~ William Saroyan.

The whole world and every human being in it is everybody’s business. ~ William Saroyan.


Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. ~ William Saroyan.

We didn’t say anything because there was such an awful lot to say, and no language to say it in. ~ William Saroyan.

Intellectual William Saroyan Quotes

The role of art is to make a world which can be inhabited. ~ William Saroyan.


Sunday is the day people go quietly mad, one way or another. ~ William Saroyan.

I sometimes think that rich men belong to another nationality entirely, no matter what their actual nationality happens to be. The nationality of the rich. ~ William Saroyan.

You may tend to get cancer from the thing that makes you want to smoke so much, not from the smoking itself. ~ William Saroyan.

I never knew teachers are human beings like everybody else – and better too! ~ William Saroyan.

If you give to a thief he cannot steal from you, and he is no longer a thief. ~ William Saroyan.


Good people are good because they’ve come to wisdom through failure. ~ William Saroyan.

All comedians are people who really deeply consider the human experience not only a dirty trick perpetrated by a totally meaningless procedure of accidents, but an unbearable ordeal every day, which can be made tolerable only by mockery in one form or another. ~ William Saroyan.

Each book can make a life or a fragment of it more beautiful. ~ William Saroyan.

Everything and everybody is sooner or later identified, defined, and put in perspective. The truth as always is simultaneously better and worse than what the popular myth-making has it. ~ William Saroyan.

So these were the 77 top William Saroyan quotes on life and Armenians.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Jonas Salk quotes and Robert Anton Wilson quotes.

Short Biography of William Saroyan

William Saroyan, an Armenian-American writer became famous for his novels, plays and short stories, capturing the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 and an Academy Award in 1943 for his work on “The Human Comedy.”


Saroyan’s narratives often explore Armenian immigrant life in California, particularly Fresno, where he was from.

Full Name William Saroyan
Born August 31, 1908, Fresno, California, United States
Died May 18, 1981 (age 72 years), Fresno, California, United States
Occupation Novelist, playwright, short story writer
Notable Awards Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1940) and Academy Award for Best Story (1943)
Spouse Carol Grace (m. 1951–1952), Carol Grace (m. 1943–1949)
Children Lucy Saroyan, Aram Saroyan
Grandchildren Strawberry Saroyan, Cream Saroyan

Notable works include “The Time of Your Life” and “My Name Is Aram.” Critics and peers like Stephen Fry and Kurt Vonnegut praised him, comparing him to literary giants and highlighting his minimalist style.

Quick Facts about William Saroyan

  • Saroyan lost his father at age 3 and grew up in an orphanage with his siblings.
  • He started selling newspapers at age 8 after his family reunited.
  • Inspired by his father’s writings, Saroyan chose to pursue writing.
  • His early stories were published in Overland Monthly, some under the pseudonym Sirak Goryan.
  • “My Name is Aram” became an international hit in 1940.
  • “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze” was his breakthrough story, named after a 19th-century song.
  • Saroyan served in the US Army during World War II, stationed in Astoria, Queens, and later in London.
  • He published “The Adventures of Wesley Jackson” during his service, which was controversial for its pacifist themes.
  • Known for minimal editing, Saroyan often gambled and drank his earnings away.
  • His first book, published in 1934, made him an overnight literary sensation.
  • Saroyan won the Drama Critic’s Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939 but refused the Pulitzer.
  • “The Human Comedy,” dedicated to his mother, won him an Oscar for Best Original Story.
  • He married Carol Marcus in 1943, had two children, and divorced twice by 1951.
  • Over his lifetime, Saroyan published more than 60 books.
  • His works emphasize hope, honesty, and the goodness of people over material success.
  • Saroyan considered writing his therapy and a way to feel alive.
  • He gave a voice to Armenians worldwide, raising awareness of their culture.
  • Born to Armenian immigrants in Fresno, California, in 1908.
  • Saroyan passed away in 1981, not far from his birthplace, believing he might be an exception to death.
  • Posthumously, his ashes were divided between Armenia and Fresno, California.
  • In 1991, he was honored with commemorative stamps by both the USA and USSR.
  • Saroyan’s unpublished manuscripts exceed his published works, with 23 books about him released posthumously.

Top Questions about William Saroyan

Q: What is a unique characteristic of William Saroyan’s writing?

A: William Saroyan’s writing is known for its immigrant sentiment stories that evolve into feelings of rootlessness.

Q: How did William Saroyan contribute to literary styles?

A: Saroyan was one of the first authors to incorporate elements of Impressionism into literature.

Q: What challenges did Saroyan face in his early life?

A: After losing his father to advanced peritonitis, Saroyan and his siblings ended up in an Oakland orphanage for six years before living with their mother in Fresno.

Q: What marked the beginning of Saroyan’s interest in writing?

A: Saroyan’s interest in writing sparked upon discovering writings his mother had kept from his father.

Q: Can you name one of Saroyan’s first successful short stories?

A: One of Saroyan’s first successful short stories was “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.”

Q: What notable award did Saroyan win and for what work?

A: Saroyan won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1940 for “The Time of Your Life,” but he declined the cash award.

Q: Which of Saroyan’s novels was adapted into an Oscar-winning film?

A: “The Human Comedy” was adapted into a film that won an Oscar in 1949.

Q: What is “My Name is Aram” about, and how does it reflect Saroyan’s personal life?

A: “My Name is Aram” is a collection of fourteen stories that reflect Saroyan’s Armenian heritage and American upbringing, mirroring his own life experiences.

Q: How did Saroyan distribute his earnings from the Oscar-winning adaptation of his novel?

A: Saroyan shared his approximately $70,000 earnings from the film adaptation with close friends and family.

Q: What was significant about Saroyan’s final years and his work “Obituaries”?

A: In his final years, Saroyan’s writing productivity declined, and one of his last works, “Obituaries,” reflected on personalities and figures he had encountered, published two years before his death at age 71.

Q: What are some notable works by William Saroyan?

A: Saroyan’s famous works include “The Armenian and the Armenian” (1935), “My Heart’s in the Highlands” (1939), “The Time of Your Life” (1939), “My Name Is Aram” (1940), “The Human Comedy” (1943), and “Come On-a My House” (1951).

Q: Can you share a popular quote by William Saroyan?

A: Sure! Saroyan once said, “When you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive.”

Q: When did Saroyan begin his writing career?

A: Saroyan started his writing journey in 1928 after getting a story published in Overland Monthly and Outwest Magazine. By 1934, his first book was out.

Q: Where is William Saroyan laid to rest?

A: Saroyan’s ashes are split between Fresno’s Ararat Armenian Cemetery and the Komitas Pantheon in Yerevan, Armenia, as per his wishes.

Q: Who had a significant influence on William Saroyan’s life and work?

A: After losing his father at a young age, Saroyan and his siblings spent time in an orphanage. They later reunited with their mother and grandmother in Fresno, where his grandmother, Lucy, became a pivotal figure in his life.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar