‘‘Dominoes’’ is the title story in Jack Agüeros’ collection of short stories, Dominoes and Other Stories from the Puerto Rican. Agüeros is a writer of Puerto Rican heritage who has lived his entire life in New York City. This is his second book, following the publication of a collection of poems, Correspondence Between the Stonehaulers in 1991. Agüeros also writes plays and drama criticism.
‘‘Dominoes’’ is about four Puerto Rican men who are playing a game of dominoes on the sidewalk in East Harlem (also known as Spanish Harlem), the Puerto Rican community of New York City. A violent quarrel suddenly erupts, leaving one man dead and another maimed for life. The story is notable for the insight it gives into aspects of Puerto Rican culture, such as the concept of machismo; it also has an underlying philosophical theme of fate versus free will. Stylistically, ‘‘Dominoes’’ is notable for its sharp, vivid images, and its deft portrayal of characters with just a few telling details.
‘‘Dominoes’’ is also an important contribution to an emerging body of ‘‘Nuyorican’’ literature. This term refers to work by Puerto Rican writers living in New York City, which has the largest Puerto Rican community in the continental United States.