The Turkish Culture Ministry has announced plans to open a museum in honor of Pullitzer Prize-winning Armenian-American writer William Saroyan. The museum will be located in the southeastern province of Bitlis, where Saroyan's family lived before migrating to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. Saroyan is being commemorated on the 100th anniversary of his birth with various events in different parts of the world, including a UNESCO declaration of 2008 as the year of Saroygan. -The search in Bitlis continues on where exactly the house that belonged to Saroyan's family is located. If we could discover where it is located, we will convert it into a museum in early 2009,- said Ertuðrul Günay, the Turkish culture minister.
Speaking to the Turkish Daily News, Günay said Turkey had not been sensitive about its artists so far and had not shown enough interest in the places where they lived. �We will eliminate such perceptions. Changes will be introduced in the cultural realm in Turkey in 2009,� he said. Saroyan was born in Fresno, California. He grew up listening to stories being told by family members about Anatolia, the land where his ancestors settled. Saroyan attracted the attention of world literary critics with his first work. In 1939, he won the Pulitzer Prize, immediately after publishing his second book, -The Trouble with Tigers.- The Turkish Daily News conducted an interview with Rober Koptaþ, editor-in-chief of Aras Publications, which publishes the Saroyan collection, and Aziz Gökdemir, editor of the collection.
For Gökdemir, a Saroyan museum in Bitlis is a dream that will not come true. -We just could not bear it if we knew the total number of valuable artifacts that Turkey has lost so far. The West has protected what Turkey would have lost. We just could not grasp the value of artists like Saroyan when they were alive. I do not believe in any possibility of opening a museum in memory of Saroyan,- he said. -In Turkey, there exists a widely held prejudice against the Armenian Diaspora. We aim to put an end to such a rigid prejudice with the Saroyan collection we publish,- said Koptaþ. -On the one hand, there is a -diaspora,' the existence of which depends on its anti-Turkey stance. On the other hand, there are those diaspora members, such as Saroyan.