Double Play

Frank Martinus Arion’s debut novel 'Double Play' (1973) was the first Antillean novel written from a black perspective. In all of his work, Arion reflects on the topics of racism and discrimination, the relationship between the community and the individual and the effects of colonialism on the world. In the end, equality is the only way forward.

Original title
Frank Martinus Arion

Double Play is a story about four dominoplaying Antillean men and their wives. While playing, the men talk about the island of Curaçao, women, politics and money.

Their life on the island is characterized by corruption, inferiority complexes and a lack of future prospects – partly due to colonialism and partly due to the powerlessness of the people themselves. Each of the four men represents a certain class on the island. Janchi Pau is a smart, Jack of all trades. Manchi Sanantonio is a bailiff suffering from megalomania. Taxi driver Boeboe Fiel has been appointed union leader against his will, and Chamon Nicolas is a rack-renter who doesn’t really belong on the island. All four men have a double agenda, their own kind of double play.

Although 'Double Play' is a first novel, it is the work of a mature writer – one who prepared himself for this sort of audience through life experience. […] Beneath the ostensible goal of victory in dominoes, the four men are competing for individual power and for the loyalty of their lovers and wive

World Literature Today

The conversations between the four rum-drinking men, each with a weapon on his belt, add even more tension to the game. They talk about cheating and prostitution, white domination, nationalism and the islanders’ inability to stimulate their own economy. They also discuss the need for education and the bloody uprising of 1968. As the story develops, Arion demonstrates how women’s emancipation is essential for resolving many of the ongoing issues on the island. Nora, Boeboe’s wife, sleeps with all kinds of men - Chamon being one of them - of them to be able to afford food and shoes for her children. She hates her waste-ful husband but leaving him is not an option.

Not only does Double Play provide a flawless portrait of the social position of these characters, it offers insight into their thoughts, dreams and political ideals. Double Play is a prime example of how a socio-political novel can be artistically convincing.

A cleverly constructed novel, full of sharp social observation and convincing characterisation, it tells us a good deal about Curaçao, about men, and about the darkness that lurks behind the seemingly innocent pastime of dominoes.

Caribbean Beat
Frank Martinus Arion
Frank Martinus Arion (1936-2015) is the most important black Dutch-language author from the Netherlands Antilles. His debut novel, 'Double Play', was the perfect springboard for his literary career. It won the Van der Hoogt Prize and has been reprinted countless times; in 2017, it was made into a movie.
Share page