Grand Hotel Europa
Longlisted for the 2023 DUBLIN Literary Award
"[Grand Hotel Europa] calls to mind Nabokov, Tom Wolfe, Baudrillard, Umberto Eco, Wes Anderson . . . [a novel of] incorrigible high spirits." —Rand Richards Cooper, The New York Times Book Review
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.