Les sagas familiales
October 6, 2017 12:26 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite French-language family saga novels or novels that recount the story of a life?

Some examples of books in this vein that I've enjoyed:

- La fiancée américaine by Eric Dupont -- just finished this and loved it
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
- The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne -- tells the story of an Irish man's life, from the 1940s to the present day
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, which I read in translation
- Ken Follett's Century Trilogy

Some criteria on what I'm looking for:

- All Francophone literature is welcome, although I'm particularly interested in any fiction involving either Quebec or the ex-French colonial empire, especially Southeast Asia
- Nothing originally written in English
- Nothing too "experimental." It doesn't have to be completely linear and conventional (La fiancée américaine is not, and it was great) but absolutely nothing along the lines of Infinite Jest, for instance

Merci !
posted by andrewesque to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
posted by brookeb at 12:35 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]

Émile Zola's 20-book series of novels on the one family (Rougon-Macquart) seem like they fit your criteria? Germinal is a world classic and rightly so.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 12:37 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]

As sagas familiales go, you can’t do better than Emile Zola’s Les Rougon-Macquart, set in the second half of 18th century France

Then, there are:

Jean-Paul Dubois’ Une Vie Française

Roger Martin du Gard’s Les Thibault

Henri Troyat’s Les Semailles et les Moissons... Probably the easiest to read...

From the former colonies, I’d heartily recommend :

Yasmina Khadra’s Ce que le jour doit à la nuit (set in colonial Algeria)

Finally, I know you said French, no translation, but, if you haven’t read it yet, please read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. That’s the first book that made me cry as a teenager. The second was Emile Zola’s Germinal, already recommended up thread.

I didn’t link but Google will get you there
posted by Kwadeng at 1:22 PM on October 6

You might be interested in La Sagouine, or other books by by Antonine Maillet. I've actually only read them in translation or stage adaptations, but I'd recommend checking her out especially if you're interested in French Canadian stories.
posted by Oso Mocoso at 3:02 PM on October 6

L'Eau des Collines by Marcel Pagnol seems to fit the bill.
posted by Duffington at 4:21 PM on October 6

Les Plouffe, by Québécois writer Roger Lemelin.
posted by elgilito at 2:10 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]

I don't think this fits your criteria exactly, but I had a French prof who told us Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel was required reading for Quebecois literature.
posted by invokeuse at 6:49 PM on October 7

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