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GRAND HOTEL EUROPA (working title)

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

  • Original Title: GRAND HOTEL EUROPA
  • Publication date: December 2018
  • Country: NL
  • 552 print pages
  • Dramedy


  • Epoch: Contemporary
  • Time Period: 21st century
  • Location setting: Italy, Macedonia, Malta, United Arab Emirates
  • Themes: FAMILY, Separation, PEOPLE facing life, Search for the truth, Facing failure, PEOPLE facing the extraordinary, Exile, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, Capitalism, Modernization, Western decline, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Social relations, Multiculturalism, LOVE / HATE, Amorous urge


Love in the time of mass-tourism. An author leaves Venice and moves into the stately Grand Hotel Europa for an indefinite period. His relationship with Clio, a clever hot-blooded art historian, has just fallen apart. In the hotel, he reconstructs exactly what went wrong.


Translation rights sold: Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom (at auction), France (at auction)

135,000 copies sold in the Netherlands

Shorlisted for the Libris Literature Prize 2019

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer is a Dutch poet and novelist. His book LA SUPERBA La (2014) won him the Libris Literature Prize and is currently being adapted into a film.


An author by the name of Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer leaves Venice and moves into the stately Grand Hotel Europa for an indefinite period. His relationship with Clio, a clever hot-blooded art historian, has just fallen apart. In the hotel, where a sense of long-lost glory hangs in the air, he reconstructs exactly what went wrong with Clio and befriends the eccentric hotel staff and guests along the way.

Among these are the major-domo, who always speaks in complete sentences, the feminist poet, Albane, the congenial bellboy, Abdul, and the intellectual, Patelski. Ever since the hotel was bought by the Chinese millionaire, Mr Wang, there have been plastic flowers in the antique vases and disco lights in the chandelier. The tension between the representatives of Old Europe and the new world reach a climax when the major-domo is fired.

The clash between tradition and modernization played a decisive role in the end of Ilja and Clio’s relationship as well. A classicist like Ilja sees nothing but the beauty of Old Europe, whereas Clio laments that a country like Italy is strangled by the past. This sentiment compels her to take a job at the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, but Ilja - a European in his heart and soul - refuses to go with her.

Ilja is enraged by the fact that Europe is becoming a giant theme park, Venice being one frightening example. He contends that beauty and an illustrious past alone are no longer relevant: ‘I don’t want to have to conclude that, like the hotel I’m staying in and the continent it’s named after, my best years are behind me and that my only real prospect for the future is to live off my past.’ Still, the book is anything but sombre. It addresses central themes such as tourism, globalization and the refugee crisis, and makes a literary plea for Europe.

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  • Author’s biography

    Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer (born 1968) is a Dutch poet, novelist, polemicist and classical scholar. He has published poetry, stage plays, essays, columns, travel accounts, stories, political satires and novels. His book LA SUPERBA (2014) won him the Libris Literature Prize. Renowned in the Netherlands as a master of language, he is the only two-time winner of the Tzum Prize for "the most beautiful sentence written in Dutch" (including one in LA SUPERBA).