The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough The Thorn Birds
by Colleen McCullough

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.

A collection of family sagas

Roots by Alex Haley
Roots
by Alex Haley
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
The House of the Spirits
by Isabel Allende
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
East of Eden
by John Steinbeck
We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
We Were the Mulvaneys
by Joyce Carol Oates
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
The Corrections
by Jonathan Franzen
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
White Teeth
by Zadie Smith
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
I Know This Much Is True
by Wally Lamb
Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
Fall On Your Knees
by Ann-Marie MacDonald
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Gone With the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Atonement
by Ian McEwan
Cane River by Lalita Tademy
Cane River
by Lalita Tademy
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
White Oleander
by Janet Fitch
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Signature of All Things
by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Lowland
by Jhumpa Lahiri
& Sons by David Gilbert
& Sons
by David Gilbert
Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
Divisadero
by Michael Ondaatje
The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman
The Story Sisters
by Alice Hoffman
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
The Red Tent
by Anita Diamant
The Forsyte Saga John Galsworthy
The Forsyte Saga
by John Galsworthy
Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros
Caramelo
by Sandra Cisneros
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
The Good Earth
by Pearl S. Buck
The Family Orchard by Nomi Eve
The Family Orchard
by Nomi Eve
Raised From the Ground by Jose Saramago
Raised From the Ground
by Jose Saramago
The Rathbones by Janice Clark
The Rathbones
by Janice Clark
Paris by Edward Rutherfurd
Paris
by Edward Rutherfurd
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
by Ayana Mathis
The Burgess Boys
The Burgess Boys
by Elizabeth Strout

What's your favorite family saga?


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