Every family has its secrets and stories, and the deepest and darkest of them can be found in the captivating literary genre of the family saga. Family sagas have a long standing history in literature, often telling a complicated, compelling story through multiple generations.
One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is perhaps the most widely known family saga. Making its way through seven generations across 100 years, the tome tells the story of patriarch José Arcadio Buendía and the many fortunes and misfortunes of his descendants. The critically acclaimed novel is considered to be the author’s masterpiece.
In fact, family sagas are some of the most popular books in modern literature with works by John Steinbeck, Jose Saramago, Pearl S. Buck and more. Jeffrey Eugenides is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Middlesex (2002), in which a mutated gene emerges in the Stephanides family in the 1970s. The book traces the gene back to its inception in Greece three generations earlier.
Nobel Prize-winner William Faulkner has made many great contributions to the family saga genre, his stories often centered on a single family. As I Lay Dying (1930) is the harrowing account of Addie Bundren’s death and burial told in turns by each member of the Bundren family. The Hamlet, The Town and The Mansion (1940–1959) make up Faulkner’s Snopes trilogy, the epic telling of the Snopes family story in Yoknapatawpha County.
From genre mainstays like The Thorn Birds and Roots and classics like East of Eden and Gone With the Wind, to new additions like The Signature of All Things, & Sons and The Lowland, we've curated a reading list for anyone who loves to sink their teeth into a good family saga.