Grand Hotel Europa

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, 1968-

Book - 2022

"A novel about love, globalization, and European identity"--

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FICTION/Pfeijffe Ilja
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1st Floor New Shelf FICTION/Pfeijffe Ilja (NEW SHELF) Due Aug 10, 2022
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2022.
First American edition
Physical Description
551 pages ; 24 cm
Main Author
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, 1968- (author)
Other Authors
Michele Hutchison (translator)
Review by PW Annex Reviews

Pfeijffer's expansive if imperfect latest (after La Superba) reckons with Europe's reliance on and fascination with its past. The narrator, also named Ilja, arrives at the Grand Hotel Europa somewhere in Europe to reflect on his lost relationship with Clio, an Italian art historian he lived with in Venice. He meets the bellboy Abdul, a refugee who relates his harrowing journey across the Mediterranean; the majordomo Signor Montebello, whose dedication becomes dispensable under new Chinese ownership; and Patelski, an "eminent scholar" who pontificates on European identity, the 2015 refugee crisis, and other lofty themes. In flashback, Ilja and Clio meet in Genoa, then move to Venice after she gets a job with the Galleria delle Belle Arti. There, Ilja starts to document his impressions of tourists, and they hunt for a lost late Caravaggio painting. Travels to the Netherlands and Montenegro inform Ilja's trenchant observations on the destabilizing effects of modern tourism, but his egotism and infantilization of Clio erode their relationship. Sophomoric, smutty characterizations of Ilja's sex life and an occasional reliance on stereotypes—a man referred to as the "big Greek," an ethereal feminist French poet—clash with the otherwise vital commentary. There's real power here, but it's diluted by the distracting detours. (June) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A moping writer moves into a grand but decaying hotel in Europe and contemplates where things went wrong with the love his life, while he becomes fascinated with his new residence and the eccentrics who built it. 20,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"A novel about love, globalization, and European identity"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A sweeping, atmospheric novel about European identity, centered on a hotel that encapsulates the continent's manifold contradictions.The love of my life lives in my past. Despite the alliteration it’s a terrible line to have to write. I don’t want to come to the conclusion, just as the hotel I’m staying in and the continent it is named after, that the best times are behind me and that I’ve little more to expect of the future than living off my past.A writer takes up residence in the stately but decaying Grand Hotel Europa in order to contemplate where things went wrong with Clio—an art historian and the love of his life. His recollections take him back to when they first met in Genoa, his wanton visits to her in Venice, and their dulcet trips to Malta, Palmaria, Portovenere, and the Cinque Terre in their thrilling search for the last painting made by Caravaggio. Meanwhile, he becomes fascinated by the mysteries of the Grand Hotel Europa and the memorably eccentric characters who inhabit it, all of whom seem to hail from a halcyon era. All the while, globalization is laying claim to even this place, where a sense of lost glory hangs sulkily in the air.Grand Hotel Europa is Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s masterly novel of the old continent, where there's so much history that there hardly seems space left for a future. Cinematic, lyrical, and brimming with humor, this is a novel about the European condition, which like the staff and residents of the Grand Hotel Europa may have already seen its best days.