Since my discussion of genre fiction was more serious yesterday (and because my blog is full of genre fiction recommendations), I decided to make today's discussion a bit lighter. And for full disclosure here: I do love literary fiction. I love reading a novel with beautiful prose where I can really try to unpack the author's words.
One particular subgenre of literary fiction I've enjoyed and I find fascinating is the family saga. The family saga chronicles the lives of generations of interconnected family members. Many times it becomes a literary device to aid the author in recounting historical events or making a social criticism.
It's so easy for us to get wrapped up in our everyday lives. We can see how we relate to those around us in the present, but the past isn't something that we always think about. Even when we do, it can be difficult to understand just how we relate to a bigger picture. What I love about family sagas is that they do just that: they put people in relation with their families, and then families in relation with much larger portraits.
I've read quite a few family sagas, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites, and then reveal some that I hope to read.
Four of my favorite family sagas:
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende — Through the lives of the Trueba women, Clara, Blanca, and Alba, and their lovers, Allende writes a sweeping story of politics, love, and the tumultuous history of twentieth-century Chile.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz — The de León family has always blamed fukú for the misfortunes that have fallen upon the past three generations, ever since Abelard decided to defy Dominican dictator Trujillo's demands.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver — When their father decides to become a missionary in the Belgian Congo, the entire Price family finds their lives uprooted, so much so that even years later, as they've all gone their separate ways, they cannot escape its influence.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez — The Buendia family finds their lives tied to a fictional town set alongside the Colombian jungle as it and they begin the arduous process of adapting to a modernized, post-colonial world.
And four family sagas I intend to read:
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri — The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans.(Goodreads)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides — The breathtaking story
of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American
Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount
Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory
days as the Motor City, and the race riots of 1967, before they move out
to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. (Goodreads)
The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy — The three novels which
make up The Forsyte Saga chronicle the ebbing social power of the
commercial upper-middle class Forsyte family between 1886 and 1920. (Goodreads)
Roots by Alex Haley — The monumental
two-century drama of Kunta Kinte and the six generations who came after
him—slaves and freedmen, farmers and blacksmiths, lumber mill workers
and Pullman porters, lawyers and architects—and one author. (Goodreads)
Do you have any favorite family sagas that I should add to my list?