There is something earthy, well-connected to the land in Armenian literature. The golden sunsets across the mountains, the pale white powdery snow, the gentle goodness of the tastes close to nature – figs and grapes and nuts, occasionally meat when times are good – and bread, always and forever the bread.
The interesting thing is that they take this with them wherever they go. Though perhaps they know little of the “old country”, they know that which is good and true comes from the land and transmit this through literature and stories, of lands even in the new country – lands which were not theirs until they were made theirs by hard work and discipline, the deep roots of community that have characterized tragic people accustomed to violence, and sadness.
William Saroyan is Armenia’s greatest diaspora writer. American, in the way that all great Americans are American – recognizing the opportunity of their adoptive land and making of it their future, not wallowing in victimization and bitterness such as is the mood of today. Saroyan writes simple prose, full of California as he knew it. Not the California of today, ruined by entitled elites – but the California of yesteryear, of immigrants working hard and miners and farmers and merchants from all over making their bounty in a land that was truly bountiful.
“My Name is Aram” is a collection of short stories by Saroyan of a boy who grows up in California as a California American whose sense of self is still defined by the old country. They are simple stories of poverty and mischievousness and rebellion, good stories that reflect back to us the character of our own country and our own personalities in how we respond to them.