“The Armenian and the Armenian”: How the House-Museum of American Writer William Saroyan Got a New Life Thanks to the Russian Armenian
“Jesus, it was good to see this black Armenian from Moush. You have no idea how good it is for an Armenian to run into an Armenian in some far place of the world. And a guy in a beer parlor, at that. A place where men drink. Who cares about the rotten quality of the beer? Who cares about the flies? Who, for that matter, cares about the dictatorship? It is simply impossible to change some things”.
(William Saroyan, 1908-1981)
In 2015, Arthur Dzhanibekyan’s “Renaissance” cultural fund purchased the house in Fresno (USA), where during the last seventy years, the world-famous writer of Armenian origin William Saroyan lived and died. On August 31, 2018, to the 110th anniversary of the writer, the doors of the long, inconspicuous house of Saroyan reopened, now as a house museum.
For three years, a tremendous amount of work has been done including the choice of the architectural style of the museum and establishing contacts with Saroyan's relatives, friends and acquaintances. As a result, from the collected materials - photographs, pictures, graphs and so on - it was possible to create an interactive and very creative museum that corresponds to the spirit of Saroyan: visitors were met by a hologram of the writer and they could feel the presence of the owner of the house.
The author of insightful stories, an Armenian who was admired by the whole world, awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the Oscar, finally received a worthy tribute of memory in his house which for many years was out of sight of the Armenian public, although Fresno, is known to be the center of one of the oldest Armenian communities in the United States, where one of the largest waves of emigrants poured in during the Genocide.
It is noteworthy that the Armenians of the USA did not take steps to buy their compatriot's house, and that was taken up by the Russian Armenian, media tycoon Arthur Dzhanibekyan, who made a truly worthy contribution to the world cultural heritage of the Armenian nation.
It is considered that the Armenian community of the United States is the most influential in the world, as it managed to influence even the adoption of certain political decisions in the country. Undoubtedly, it had the opportunity to preserve the cultural heritage of the compatriots in the United States. But such examples make us pay attention to the realities in the Armenian Diaspora all over the world, which demonstrate the disorientation, misplaced priorities and, as a result, the misuse of available resources.