Set in between the desert and the jungle in northwest Peru The Green House by Mario Vargas Llosa is in many way a gritty story written in such a South American way. Religion, power, indigenous people, civilization, good and evil are all part of this twisted story.
Two native girls are kidnapped by soldiers and nuns from the jungle to a mission school, so that the girls could lead a civilized life. A man builds the Green house, a brothel. A baby is left to die after her parents are murdered. There is so much going on in the book, and so many people, that it is sometimes hard to keep track. It is the exact kind of chaos we are used to hear from what is going on in the South American countries.
The green house is the focal point for many characters’ lives. Others hate it with a passion. Love and hate are strong themes in the book, so are greed and power, or the lack of power. Like always, money talks and takes you places. It is hard to find a real plot in this book, and since there are so many characters the reader really needs to concentrate to stay on track.
Even though the author is one of the most famous authors in the magical realism genre I was lucky enough to choose a book that did not have the pure elements from the genre, even though the lyrical language and the annoying jumping back and forth in time are strongly present in the book. These kind of books are frustrating to read in my opinion. In a way it works a bit better with this book than most others, because I can only imagine how surreal the situation was (and is) for native people, and the way they are treated.