The Green House by Mario Vargas Llosa, 1965 (in Spanish), 1968 (English translation)

DCF 1.0This novel takes place in the early to mid 20th century in various small communities in the northern Peruvian jungle. The large cast of characters includes the local military, Catholic priests and nuns, elected officials, townspeople, rubber smugglers and traders, and local indigenous people. The green house is a whorehouse built at the edge of a town.  Struggles throughout the novel revolve around morality with the Catholic clergy and military on one side and the whore house owner and whores, smugglers, indigenous people on the other.  Within the morality struggle is also a conflict of the European based culture dominating over the indigenous and the attempt of the nuns and priests to convert the natives over to their religion and culture.  Another pervasive conflict is that of the inhabitants of the area against the ravages of nature: floods, sandstorms, heat, tropical pests, and malaria.  The larger towns in the novel and the rivers are on Google maps, so setting is actual for the most part.  I found the novel a more challenging read than most being written in a modernist style with sections of stream-of-consciousness, a large number of characters, frequent scene changes occurring in parallel or non-chronological time .  The book received the most important South American literary prize, the Romulo Gallegos Award, in 1967 and Mario Llosa won a Nobel prize for literature in 2010.


The Complete List of Bernal Book Club Selections

The Bernal Book Club has been meeting for twenty-two years.  Here are the  books read (or scheduled to be read) by the group since its inception:


Love in The Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

My Antonia – Willa Cather

Candide – Voltaire

Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan


Palace Walk – Naguib Mahfouz

A Bend in the River – V. S. Naipaul

Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel

Crossing to Safety – Wallace Stegner

Jazz – Toni Morrison

To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf

The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende

Mama Day – Gloria Naylor

Turn of the Screw – Henry James

Othello – William Shakespeare

The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros

A Christmas Memory – Truman Capote


The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu

Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

Stones for Ibarra – Harriet Doerr

A Personal Matter – Kenzaburo Oe

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Gorilla, My Love – Toni Cade Bambara

Buddenbrooks – Thomas Mann

Ordinary Love & Goodwill – Jane Smiley

Native Son – Richard Wright

The Optimist’s Daughter – Eudora Welty

The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame


The Bean Trees – Barbara Kingsolver

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter – Mario Vargas Llosa

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston

Live from Golgotha – Gore Vidal

Spring Snow – Yukio Mishima

A Good Man is Hard to Find – Flannery O’Connor

The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann

Woman Hollering Creek – Sandra Cisneros

Angle of Repose – Wallace Stegner

A Thousand Acres – Jane Smiley

King Lear – William Shakespeare

The Blithedale Romance – Nathaniel Hawthorne


Erewhon – Samuel Butler

Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder

He, She, and It – Marge Piercy

Possession – A. S. Byatt

[various titles] – James Baldwin

Ceremony – Leslie Silko

The Red and the Black – Stendhal

Women of the Silk – Gail Tsukiyama

Epitaph of a Small Winner – Machado de Assis

Bastard Out of Carolina – Dorothy Allison

Hunger – Knut Hamsun


Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood

As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

Dreaming in Cuban – Cristina Garcia

Paradise News – David Lodge

Paula – Isabel Allende

Texaco – Patrick Chamoiseau

Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt

Little Big Man – Thomas Berger

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Consequence – Elizabeth Newark

Puttermesser Papers – Cynthia Ozick

Jasmine – Mukherjee Bharati

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden


Cloudsplitter – Russell Banks

John Brown’s Body – Stephen Vincent Benet

Confessions of  Madame Psyche & the Test – Dorothy Bryant

PrairyErth – William Least Heat-Moon

Down by the River – Edna O’Brien

Snow Falling on Cedars – David Guterson

The Radiant Way – Margaret Drabble

Blindness – Jose Saramago

Beauty and Sadness – Yasunari Kawabata

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

The Samurai’s Garden – Gail Tsukiyama

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

The Return of Little Big Man – Thomas Berger


Stones from the River – Ursula Hegi

Elegy for Iris – John Bayley

Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O’Brien – Oscar Hijuelos

The Life of the Bee – Maurice Maeterlinck

My Year of Meats – Ruth Ozeki

Dogeaters – Jessica hagedorn

Crime and Punishment – Dostoyevsky

Breath and Shadow – Ella Leffland

Imperial San Francisco – Gray Brechin

Lincoln – Gore Vidal

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone – J. K. Rowling


Paradise – Toni Morrison

The Stone Angel – Margaret Laurence

The Woman Who Walked into Doors – Roddy Doyle

McTeague – Frank Norris

Disgrace – J. M. Coetzee

Prodigal Summer – Barbara Kingsolver

The Reader – Bernhard Schlink

The Autobiography of My Mother – Jamaica Kincaid

Moby Dick – Herman Melville

Daughter of Persia – Sattareh Farman-Farmaian

Ramayana – Aubrey Menen

The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye – A. S. Byatt


Orestes – Euripides

Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri

Mariette in Ecstasy – Ron Hansen

Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon – Jorge Amado

In the Time of the Butterflies – Julia Alvarez

Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie

Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels

For the Relief of Unbearable Urges – Nathan Englander

What Went Wrong? – Bernard Lewis

Bonesetter’s Daughter – Amy Tan

Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

The Love of a Good Woman – Alice Munro

Under Milk Wood – Dylan Thomas


Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

The House Gun – Nadine Gordimer

Death In Venice – Thomas Mann

Amsterdam – Ian McEwan

The Latecomers – Anita Brookner

Miss Lonelyhearts – Nathanael West

Remembering Babylon – David Malouf

The Bell – Iris Murdoch

A House For Mr. Biswas – V. S. Naipaul

Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

The Hours – Michael Cunningham

The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

Agamemnon – Aeschylus


Middlemarch – George Eliot

A Gesture Life – Chang-rae Lee

The Old Gringo – Carlos Fuentes

The Price of a Child – Lorene Cary

Beowulf –  Seamus Heaney, translation

The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

A Passage To India – E. M. Forster

Grendel – John Gardner

Battle For God – Karen Armstrong

Terror in the Mind of God – Mark Juergensmeyer

Elizabeth Costello – J. M. Coetzee

Bartleby, the Scrivener – Herman Melville


The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy

Tinisima – Elena Poniatowska

I know This Much Is True – Wally Lamb

Pigs In Heaven – Barbara Kingsolver

Don Quixote Vol. I – Miguel de Cervantes

Don Quixote Vol. II – Miguel de Cervantes

The Law of Love – Laura Esquivel

The Men of Brewster Place – Gloria Naylor

The Adventures of Augie March – Saul Bellow

The Cave – Jose Saramago

The Robber Bridegroom – Eudora Welty


Hornet’s Nest – Jimmy Carter

Extremely Loud and Amazingly Close – Jonathan Foer

In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down – Ann Fadiman

Bel Canto – Ann Patchett

Snow – Orhan Pamuk

The Master – Colm Toibin

The Cutting Room – Laurence Klavan

Bee Season – Myra Goldberg

The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene

The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion

Never Let Me Go – Ishiguro Kazuo


The Great War For Civilization – Robert Fisk

Memories of My Melancholy Whores – Gabriel Marquez

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Bone People – Keri Hulme

Orlando – Virginia Wolfe

The Hummingbird’s Daughter – Luis Alberto Urrea

Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

The Mind Body Problem – Rebecca Goldstein

The Known World – Edward P. Jones

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini


The Tent – Margaret Atwood

Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

The History of Love – Nicole Krauss

When the Emperor Was Divine – Julie Otsuka

Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula Le Guin

East, West: Stories – Salmon Rushdie

Gods Go Begging – Alfred Vea

Deep River – Shusaku Endo

Journey to Ixtlan – Carlos Castaneda


Sister Carrie – Theodore Dreiser

The World Without Us – Alan Weisman

Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

Einstein’s Dreams – Alan Lightman

Blue Flower – Penelope Fitzgerald

Suite Francaise – Irene Nemirovsky

Horse Heaven – Jane Smiley

Little Heathens – Mildred Kalish

The Zookeeper’s Wife – Diane Ackerman

Lives of Girls and Women – Alice Munro

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak


She’s Come Undone – Wally Lamb

Confessions of Max Tivoli – Andrew Greer

Hamlet – William Shakespeare

The Maytrees – Annie Dillard

Genesis (The Bible) – “Moses” (per Christian mythology)

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

Double – Jose Saramago

Infidel – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton

At Play in the Fields of the Lord – Peter Matthiessen

Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway


Mudbound – Hillary Jordan

Skeleton Man – Tony Hillerman

Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows


Breakfast with Buddha – Roland Merullo

 I am Nujood – Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui

The Elephant’s Journey – Jose Saramago

Tinkers – Paul Harding

The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

Cleaving (Marriage, Meat, Obsession) – Julie Powell

Mrs. Kimble – Jennifer Haigh

The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

A Paradise Built in Hell – Rebecca Solnit

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake – Amy Bender

Adventures of Augie March – Saul Bellow


Tinisima – Elena Poniatowska

Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis

Lark and Termite – Jayne Ann Phillips

Language of Flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Story of Edward Sawtelle – David Wroblewski

The Cat’s Table – Michael Ondaatje

Deaf Sentence – David Lodge

Stillness at Appomattox – Bruce Catton

Shedding Grace – Mab Maher

The Tiger’s Wife – Tea Obreht

Buddha in the Attic – Julie Otsuka

The Best of it (4 selected poems) – Kay Ryan


The Greater Journey – David McCullough

Little Brother – Cory Doctorow

Cleopatra:  A Life – Stacy Schiff

Mary Coin – Marisa Silver

East of Eden – John Steinbeck

Season of the Witch – David Talbot

Finnegan’s Wake – James Joyce

The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

The Round House – Louise Erdrich

Zealot – Reza Asian


The Green House – Mario Vargas Llosa

The Human Age – Diane Ackerman

Americanah – C. Ngozi Adichie

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz

The Cookbook Collector – Allegra Goodman

House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family – Paul Fisher

An Unnecessary Woman – Rabih Alameddine

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

American Tabloid – James Ellroy

Caleb’s Crossing – Geraldine Brooks


Flight Behavior – Barbara Kingsolver

Leaving Time – Judy Picoult

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood