This is an autobiography of an incredible Guatemalan anthropologist and writer. He tells the extraordinary story of a Mayan boy who seeks to improve his life through education. It is a story of dreams and goals that crosses the Mayan and Western worlds.
I first learned about the author twenty years ago when I read his novel, “The Adventures of Mr. Puttison Among the Maya,” in English and Spanish. This novel is historical and satirical, recounting the adventures of an American traveler, who appears in an isolated Mayan village, and the community thinks he is a priest. This story is the story of an encounter between Western culture and the Maya. Like “Between Two Worlds,” it is very well written and sometimes even comical; however, it reveals a lot about the reality of the Mayan people.
Over the years, I have written reviews of five of his 12 books. I interviewed him for a documentary I worked on in “Revue Magazine.”
At the beginning of the book, the author acknowledges a group that helped him to leave the countryside as the son of humble parents and become a recognized anthropologist, “To the sisters and priests of the Maryknoll, who in the early 1960s sought and chose indigenous children from the villages to give them an opportunity for education at the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas boarding school in Jacaltenango.” He was just seven years old when he started studying. However, he says that his parents taught him the myths and oral traditions of their town, Jacaltenango.
Like many Guatemalans, the Civil War changed his life in many ways, “Unfortunately, in 1981, the armed conflict intensified… On February 1, the soldiers murdered my younger brother, Pedro Antonio, who had graduated as a teacher, and the next day he would have begun work…”
The author tells how the Maryknolls and professors at Bucknell University helped him escape Guatemala and eventually educate himself and earn a doctorate in anthropology.
Although he was educated and would eventually teach at the University of California, Davis, he never forgot his people. He makes a strong criticism of the prejudices of “colonialist” anthropology reflected in a paper entitled: “In the name of the pot the sun, the broken spear, the rock, the stick, the idol, ad infinitum, and Ad nauseum: an expose of Anglo anthropologists’ obsessions with and invention of Mayan gods.” In his last book, Mayalogue: An Interactionist Theory of Indigenous Cultures, he writes about this process of decolonization of the Indigenous communities and the social sciences.
Although this book is only available in Spanish at this time, here’s an article I wrote about the author, “Victor Montejo’s Dream for a Secure Maya Community,” October 2020 edition of Revue Magazine:
- ASIN : B09KCPWN2T
- Publisher : Piedrasanta; 1st edition (October 26, 2021)
- Publication date : October 26, 2021
- Language : Spanish
- File size : 3755 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Print length : 264 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,033,207 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- #2,785 in Teens & Young Adult in Spanish
- #5,407 in Biographies & Memoirs in Spanish
- #7,400 in Cultural & Regional Biographies (Kindle Store)
About the Reviewer
Mark Walker was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala and spent over forty years helping disadvantaged people in the developing World.
He’s a contributing writer for “Revue Magazine” and the “Literary Traveler.” His column, “The Million Mile Walker Review: What We’re Reading and Why,” is part of the Arizona Authors Association newsletter. His first book is Different Latitudes: My Life of the Peace Corps and Beyond. His latest book, My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road, is now available on Cyberwit.net. His wife and three children were born in Guatemala. You can learn more at www.MillionMileWalker.com.