20 Family Sagas You Can Read Over A Long Weekend
If you're looking for a great, lengthy book to dive into, I've picked out 20 family sagas you can read over a long weekend. These multigenerational sagas are perfect for anyone who wants to spend a few days investing deeply in the lives of fictional characters.
The family saga is one of my favorite subgenres to read, simply because the return on investment is so high. For the hours I spend reading about the lives of a family across decades and generations, I get to immerse myself in a story that I'll remember fondly for years to come. Whenever I'm looking for a long, literary read, I reach for a book like the ones on the list below.
Because the books on this list span nearly 40 years of publishing history, readers who love the family saga may find a lot of familiar book faces here. The oldest title on the list, The House of the Spirits, first appeared on store shelves in 1982, while the most recent, A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl, just made its debut in October 2018. Several of the titles below, including Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and Ayana Mathis' The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, were lauded upon publication in recent years.
Check out my picks for the 20 family sagas you can read in a long weekend below:
'Homegoing' by Yaa Gyasi
Beginning with two sisters who grow up in different 17th-century Ghanian villages, Homegoing traces the impact of slavery and colonization, following the two women's families for the next few centuries as they navigate both sides of the Atlantic.
'Like Water for Chocolate' by Laura Esquivel
As the youngest daughter, Tita is destined never to marry, thanks to a family tradition that says she must remain at home to care for her mother in her old age. So when Pedro asks for her hand in marriage, he winds up marrying her older sister instead, setting off a series of events that have lifelong consequences for Tita's entire family.
'Pachinko' by Min Jin Lee
After recuperating from an illness at an inn, a missionary agrees to marry the owner's daughter, who has become pregnant as the result of an affair with a wealthy, married merchant. The young couple move across the sea, where they raise two sons in the Zainichi Korean community of ethnic Koreans living in Japan.
'The Namesake' by Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri's debut novel centers on Ashoke and Ashima, a Bengali couple, who move to the U.S. to attend college in the 1960s. Their son, Gogol, wrestles with his identity as the Indian-American bearer of a Russian name, and must come to terms with his place in the world.
'The Plague of Doves' by Louise Erdrich
When a family is murdered in the 1930s, the community blames and lynches three young men from the local Ojibwe reservation. One of the boys, Mooshum, survives to old age, and watches his young granddaughter navigate a world forever changed by the horrific events of its past.
'The Patriots' by Sana Krasikov
To escape the Great Depression, Florence moves from Brooklyn to take a job in Moscow, believing it will offer opportunities unavailable to her in America. Once there, however, she discovers that she cannot return home again, and it will fall to her son, Julian, to return to his mother's homeland.
'The House of the Spirits' by Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende's debut novel follows the Trueba family through three generations. Patriarch Esteban begins a devastating chain of events when he rapes a peasant woman at his hacienda, resulting in the birth of his eldest son, who will later seek revenge on his father's family.
'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy
Centering on a small family in Kerala, The God of Small Things examines all the ways in which India's so-called Love Laws, which "lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much," impact their lives.
'Caramelo' by Sandra Cisneros
Determined to explain why her Awful Grandmother became the woman she is, young historian Lala investigates and retells her family's history in this novel from The House on Mango Street author Sandra Cisneros.
'The Twelve Tribes of Hattie' by Ayana Mathis
Beginning during the Great Migration, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie follows its eponymous matriarch north from Georgia to Philadelphia in 1923, where she raises nine living children and mourns the two she lost to poverty and illness.
'Boy, Snow, Bird' by Helen Oyeyemi
This multigenerational fairy tale begins when Boy, a young white woman who has recently moved away from home, meets and marries a widower who has a daughter, Snow. When Boy gives birth to Snow's younger sister Bird, however, she learns that her husband's family has kept a secret for many years.
'A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl' by Jean Thompson
A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl examines the impact of crushed dreams and unwanted children on the lives of three generations of women: Evelyn, who wanted a career more than children; Laura, who wanted to be a better mother than her own; and Grace, who founders under the pressure to be her best self.
'Wild Swans' by Jung Chang
This semi-autobiographical novel examines the lives of the author's mother and grandmother, who grew up on either side of China's Cultural Revolution, and of the author herself, who became a Red Guard in the 1960s.
'The Bonesetter's Daughter' by Amy Tan
While dealing with her mother LuLing's apparent dementia, Chinese-American Ruth has the other woman's papers translated into English, where she reads for the first time the true stories of LuLing's complicated family history.
'The Buddha in the Attic' by Julie Otsuka
Weaving together a collective tale into what is possibly the shortest family saga you'll ever read, Julie Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic follows a group of Japanese picture brides across the Pacific to California, where they discover that their husbands are not at all what they were told.
'White Teeth' by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith's White Teeth traces the lives of three families living in London: those of white Englishman Archie Jones, his Bengali Muslim war buddy Samad Iqbal, and their Jewish-Catholic neighbor Marcus Chalfen.
'In the Name of Salome' by Julia Alvarez
From the author of In the Time of the Butterflies comes this novel, which retells the story of Dominican poet Salomé Ureña and her daughter, Camila, who was born just three short years before her mother's death.
'Desirable Daughters' by Bharati Mukherjee
In this novel, a woman scandalizes her Brahmin family through divorce and relocation, with her teenage son, to California, where she begins an affair with a buddhist from Eastern Europe and searches for an identity she can call her own.
'Daughters of the Stone' by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa
Enslaved on a Puerto Rican sugar plantation and separated from her husband, Fela holds out hope for her family in the form of a stone containing the spirit of her unborn child. Daughters of the Stone traces the lives of Fela and her female descendants from the mid-1800s to the modern day.
'In Your Hands' by Inês Pedrosa
In 1930s Portugal, Jenny marries António, a gay man, and raises a daughter with him and his lover, Pedro. Decades later, Jenny's daughter and granddaughter, Camila and Natália, pursue their own passions and unconventional loves.