Ilya Pfeiffer’s “Grand Hotel Europe”

Grand Hotel Europa, translated by Michele Hutchison, has captured the attention of many, dominating the Dutch bestseller lists for over a year with more than 300,000 copies sold. The novel is set to reach a wider audience with its publication in English in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

The story unfolds within the walls of the once illustrious but now decaying Grand Hotel Europa. The narrator, a writer, checks in to reflect on his past relationship with Clio, a woman he fell deeply in love with in Genoa and followed to Venice. As he dwells on what went wrong, he narrates their travels across various European locales like Malta and Cinque Terre, their adventures steeped in romance and the quest for a lost Caravaggio painting.

Amidst his personal reflections, the writer becomes intrigued by the hotel’s own story and its residents—who seem to hail from a bygone era of elegance. The hotel serves as a microcosm of Europe itself, struggling with the impacts of mass tourism and globalization, yet clinging to a nostalgic past.

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s Grand Hotel Europa is not just a novel about personal and continental nostalgia; it’s a poignant commentary on European identity and the continent’s fixation with its own history to the extent of possibly having no future beyond rehashing the past. Pfeijffer’s writing, both theatrical and moving, makes this book arguably his best work to date. It’s a must-read for those interested in themes of love, loss, and the cultural shifts shaping modern Europe.

Carl Gruen

Carl is the founding host of the Australia128 program and brings a world of expertise to the station. From Canadian, Australian, and European Indie, to the more undiscovered Indie markets in Asia and Latin America.

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