Radio round the Globe

thu 6 oct 2016

Jan Brokken: The tragic champion. Thursday 6th October 18.00 .

This is the story of Curacoer Rikki ( Ricardo) Marchena, who after his father committed suicide, went to live with his beautiful mother.

He started playing tennis, later table tennis (because of his problematic achilles heel) and was champion for many years. He is also a successful businessman in sports equipment, but eventually lands in prison and the gutter.


The story is told not only from his perspective but from that of his brothers, sister, uncle and trainer. I was sucked in by the story. Curacao, the continual heat, the corruption, the drugs.
The atmosphere on Curacao and the Antilles is well described. A goal? Goodness no. In the Antilles we live because the sun shines, the wind always blows and the sea is always murmuring. If we ever asked ourselves why we live we’d become desperate. And that’s exactly the problem . A little desperation. It’s the fantasists who lead themselves to their own doom. Losers will never take the risk of leaving, simply because they accept things for what they are.
Rikki, our central character, was very philosophically inclined. His two older brothers were also good table tennis players, but little Rikki was better. Years long top performances. He was convinced that the best play came out of anger. In this book, The tragic Champion by Jan Brokken  we read about the inevitable end of Rikki, addicted to drugs in a rotting building.
When I don’t smoke I wonder if I still exist, he, realised.But he continually philosophised. In jail, he burnt his sports article business, and read a lot, among others much Nietzsche.
One of his Curacao buddies, with whom he played table tennis tournaments remarked: When you have grown up on a small island it’s sensation to travel 600 km through a country without once seeing the sea. You finally realise how big the world is.
The music. Rikki knew two tunes by Ray Barretto, a jazz musician from Puerto Rico and a guitar solo by Jimi Hendrix. Rikki’s father stamped along to the rumba’s and chachacha’s on Radio Havana.
After 2 years in prison, he finds in a big empty house a recording of Allso sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss. Strauss based this on the book of the same name by Nietzsche.
Book and music make a deep impression on Rikki. In The Tragic Champion we come across a lot of quotes from Nietzsche. Also sprach Zarathustra by Strauss appealed to a lot of people, was used for the film ‘2001 A space Odyssee,’ a 1968 film by Stanley Kubrick. Rikki Marchena became fascinated by Nietzsche, and the music of Strauss.
What does it take to be a champion?
Admiration for afar is nice, the closer you come the more anxious you get. The only reason I play well is I can’t deal with loss very well, and he asks himself: Doesn’t sport magnify your ego out of all proportion? By Nietzsche he found what he knew all along: nothing is ever completely lost.
Only when I impressed did I believe I existed.Don’t grieve too much about losses, only the extremest neurotics reach the top. There are a lot more valuable insights in this book. Impressive and interesting.Only one thing to do : read that book. Jan Brokken wrote it almost 20 years ago and it still sucked me in.You can find it at Literaire Reisboekhandel Evenaar in Amsterdam, but of course in any good bookshop.The same Jan Brokken who opened the shop 25 years ago, in 1991 .
Come by and make your choice.
For more information www.evenaar.net
The latest news about the shop.
On 8th November the judge will rule on our dispute with the landlord…

Published on 1st October 2016

As you’ve probably heard, our landlord tried to get us out by 1 January 2017 . We disagreed and now we have to answer to the judge. There was a sitting on 26th September during which the judge asked both sides critical questions. We defended ourselves well and on 8th November the judge will announce his verdict.

The fact that we have existed for exactly 25 years this month doesn’t matter, on the contrary it’s an extra reason to get rid of us. That’s what our opponent’s lawyer thinks anyway!

We’re not leaving! We fight on!

Boekhandel Evenaar 25 jaar!

On 29th September 1991 Jan Brokken opened our bookstore. We’ve decided to celebrate this special event at the beginning of 2017 .