If there’s one kind of book that I love, it’s the family saga. Novels that focus on how different generations of families interconnect and prevail almost always end up being the novels that leave the most lasting impact on me. There are endless points to identify with in these stories, no matter a person’s background, plus there is so much history within these stories. We are all connected! Here are some family sagas I have read and enjoyed (for the most part). Have you read any of them?
East of Eden by John Steinbeck is easily one of my favorite novels ever. It is quite long (which is why I keep putting off my re-read), but the compelling characters draw you in and slowly reveal themselves over the course of the story. The novel follows two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons over the course of several generations. There are so many themes in this book, but the most evident one is the biblical connection to Adam and Eve and Cane and Abel. It truly is a masterpiece that maybe…definitely made me cry several times. Not to mention the movie starring James Dean. That movie is only a quarter of this novel. It’s a classic that may be boring for some, but definitely worth the time if this is your kind of thing.
Another favorite! Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi follows the families of two sisters from Ghana with very different fates, spanning from the 18th century to the present day. This novel is incredibly rich in its character development and setting, it’s flawless in my opinion. I don’t really understand how it’s possible to write such a complex story in only 300 pages, but Yaa Gyasi does it!
Okay, okay so this is also another all-time favorite of mine. Victor Villasenor’s novel Rain of Gold is actually non-fiction, which makes it a bit different from other books on this list. Focusing on two parallel stories of families, this novel begins during the Mexican Revolution and ends decades later in the United States. The writing is beautiful. It is essentially a love story and the fact that it is true makes it so much sweeter. This made me feel so much closer to my own heritage as a Mexican-American and is close to my heart forever.
I recently finished reading Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu, which tells the story of a Chinese family during a time of war and migration. Fu truly impressed me, especially considering this is a debut novel. This story offered a glimpse at the history of modern China, which I was not very familiar with. It focused especially on war and its impact on the people involved. I was reading this on an airplane home during a particularly pivotal scene and was trying with all my might not to start sobbing right there in my seat! I’m super excited to see what else Melissa Fu releases in the future because this was a wonderful novel.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the currently most popular family saga, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I read this a couple of months ago and would definitely recommend it if it interests you. It wasn’t one of my favorite family sagas because I didn’t click with the writing style, but I have been enjoying the series that came out this past month so much. It pieces the interweaving stories together in a way that makes me feel connected to the characters in a way I personally felt the novel was lacking. Either way, I’m glad we have both formats as it is an amazing story worth your time.
Have you read any of these books or do you have any recommendations not on this list? I realized that most of these books feature stories of migration to the US. I’ll have to look into other works focusing on families who remain in different countries!