Perera, Victor (Haim) 1934-2003
PERERA, Victor (Haim) 1934-2003
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born April 12, 1934, in Guatemala City, Guatemala; died of a stroke June 15, 2003, in Santa Cruz, CA. Journalist, educator, and author. Perera gained critical attention and acclaim for his three memoirs about his ancestry and life as a Sephardic Jew. Throughout much of his early life he believed that the tragedies that afflicted his family were the result of his father's disobeying his great-grandfather's wish that the family never leave the Holy Land. Perera's father immigrated from Jerusalem to Guatemala, a country that came under the dictatorship of a violent regime. Perera's sister suffered from schizophrenia, and he himself bore the wounds of a botched circumcision operation. The unlucky family fled Guatemala when Perera was twelve years old. Years later, in 1956, Perera graduated from Brooklyn College, and in 1958 completed a master's degree at the University of Michigan. For four years he was a pre-doctoral teaching fellow in English and Spanish, then joined the New Yorker staff as a fact checker and journalist. During the 1980s and 1990s Perera returned several times to Guatemala to report on the experiences of that country's citizens under military dictatorship; he wrote an anthropological study of Mayan descendants in Last Lords of Palenque: The Lacandon Mayas of the Mexican Rain Forest (1982). However, it was for his three memoirs—Rites: A Guatemalan Boyhood (1986), Unfinished Conquest: The Guatemalan Tragedy (1993), and The Cross and the Pear Tree: A Sephardic Journey (1995)—that he received the most critical attention. Perera's later career focused on teaching journalism. From 1972 to 1989 he was on the faculty at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and from 1993 to 1998 he taught at the school's Berkeley campus. He was also the author of a nonfiction book, The Loch-Ness Monster-Watchers (1974) and a novel, The Conversion (1970).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, June 20, 2003, section 3, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2003, p. B15.
New York Times, June 23, 2003, p. A23.
Washington Post, June 22, 2003, p. C8.
SFGate.com,http://www.sfgate.com/ (June 17, 2003), Jim Herron Zamora, "Victor Perera—Chronicler of the Abused, Oppressed."