Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer: Grand Hotel Europa

New Dutch Writing

Time and date

Thursday 14 July 2022

1:00 pm


Bantry Library

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Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s Grand Hotel Europa is a moving and addictive masterpiece of European identity, nostalgia and the end of an era. Ilja will join us by live video linkup from his home in Genoa whilst we will be joined in person by his translator Michele Hutchison who translated this Dutch bestseller into English and by Alex Clark who will interview Ilja and Michele

Admission: Free

‘The love of my life lives in my past. That is, despite the alliteration, a terrible sentence to write. I do not want to come to the conclusion that, as it is the case for the hotel where I am staying and the continent after which it is named, the best time is behind me and that I have little more to expect from the future than to live on my past.’


A writer takes residence in the illustrious but decaying Grand Hotel Europa, to think about where things went wrong with Clio, with whom he fell in love in Genoa and moved to Venice. He reconstructs a compelling story of love in times of mass tourism, about their trips to Malta, Palmaria, Portovenere and the Cinque Terre and their thrilling search for the last painting of Caravaggio. Meanwhile, he becomes fascinated by the mysteries of Grand Hotel Europe and gets more and more involved with the memorable characters who inhabit it, and who seem to come from a more elegant time. All the while, globalisation seems to be grabbing hold even on this place frozen in time. Grand Hotel Europa is Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s masterly novel on the old continent, where so much history resides that there is no place left for a future and where the most realistic future perspectives are offered in the form of exploiting the past in the shape of tourism.


‘A masterpiece: grandiose style, brilliant and rich. It will defy the ages’ Trouw (The Netherlands)


Ilja will join us via live video link up. Ilja’s and Michele’s participation in West Cork Literary Festival is supported by the Nederlands Letterenfonds / Dutch Foundation for Literature as part of their New Dutch Writing programme.




Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer is a Dutch writer who was born in 1968 near The Hague. He is a classicist by training and made his literary debut with a poetry collection...

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Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison was born in the UK and has lived in Amsterdam since 2004. A former commissioning editor in UK publishing, she translates literary fiction and nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels,...

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Alex Clark

Alex Clark is a critic, journalist and broadcaster. A co-host of Graham Norton’s Book Club, she is also a regular on BBC Radio 4 and writes on a wide range...

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