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Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer  - foto Stephan Vanfleteren
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer - foto Stephan Vanfleteren

(Netherlands, 1968) is a classicist and writer. He has more than 40 titles to his name, including poetry, novels, short stories, plays, scientific studies, translations and anthologies. His work has earned many nominations and prizes, including the 2014 Libris Literature Prize for his novel La Superba, an ode to the city of Genoa, where he lives and works. In 2016 he published Brieven uit Genua (Letters from Genoa), an autobiography in letter format and the counterpart to La Superba, which also discusses the publication of the novel. Grand Hotel Europa (2018), a book about love in times of mass tourism, nostalgia, European identity, and a part of the world that has become a museum, was nominated for the 2019 Libris Literature Prize and translated into 10 languages. Pfeijffer never eschews debate, expressing himself in essays, columns and TV programs.

(WN 2020)

Archive available for: Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

  • Winternachten 2020

    Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer is Europe

    With: Damiaan Denys, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Noa Eyl

    What is left of grande dame Europa? Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer takes to the couch in the role of this ailing part of the planet. Together with psychiatrist Damiaan Denys, he discusses the status of important themes such as migration, tourism and the environment, and looks into the future.

    Via excerpts from his masterful novel Grand Hotel Europa, the Pfeijffer takes you on a journey through a once-grand Europe, now in decline and a shadow of itself. With intermezzos by violinist Noa Eyl, a virtuostic interpreter of classical music, klezmer and jazz.

    This beloved and intriguing event debuted at preceding Writes Unlmited festivals returns, now as an independent evening program. The writer - a presumed specialist in bringing characters to life - lets psychiatrist Damiaan Denys accompany him into the world of his novel. The writer on the couch IS the novel or the character in this fascinating and unpredictable roleplay.

    **** "Grand Hotel Europa doesn't shrink from anything, wants to impress and impresses indeed. Its big-bigger-biggest scope turns the novel into an amazing masterpiece. On top of this, it's a wonderful book that you read with an eagerness that becomes more and more feverish. Pfeijffer has caught the zeitgeist and served it up in irresistible fashion. He's written the novel of the year." NRC Handelsblad

    "Grand Hotel Europa is not only an overwhelming reading experience, Pfeijffer also dishes up tons of food for thought. Who can match him in today's Dutch literary scene, with his enormous ability to light a fire under the zeitgeist and thumb his nose at all the decent, fussy novels full of first-world problems?" De Morgen

    "You can easily call Grand Hotel Europa a pageturner. The most admirable aspect of the novel is Pfeijffer's fascination with his subject, and his engagement. Grand Hotel Europa is not only a consideration of our identity but also a contribution to its continuation." De Volkskrant

    Tip: Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer will speak about his poetry and his novel Grand Hotel Europe on Thursday, 16 January (12-13h, free entry) in the Speakers' Corner of the Haagse Hogeschool. He will also appear on Friday, 17 January at Friday Night Unlimited, a varied festival night with 24 events in six rooms at the Theater aan het Spui and the The Hague Filmhuis.

  • Winternachten 2020

    Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer in De Haagse Hogeschool

    With: Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

    Writer, poet and classical scholar Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer is without a doubt one of the best-read contemporary Dutch authors. Besides his recent, award-winning novels La Superba and Grand Hotel Europa, he has published many essays, poems, plays and more novels. He also presented the TV series Via Genua, in which he gives a tour of his chosen city of Genova through migrant stories.

    During this free accessible conversation with Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer in the Speakers' Corner the author will be interviewed by Joost Boogard, student European Studies at The Hague University of Applied Sciences (De Haagse Hogeschool).

    **** "Grand Hotel Europa doesn't shrink from anything, wants to impress and impresses indeed. Its big-bigger-biggest scope turns the novel into an amazing masterpiece. On top of this, it's a wonderful book that you read with an eagerness that becomes more and more feverish. Pfeijffer has caught the zeitgeist and served it up in irresistible fashion. He's written the novel of the year." NRC Handelsblad

    "Grand Hotel Europa is not only an overwhelming reading experience, Pfeijffer also dishes up tons of food for thought. Who can match him in today's Dutch literary scene, with his enormous ability to light a fire under the zeitgeist and thumb his nose at all the decent, fussy novels full of first-world problems?" De Morgen

    "You can easily call Grand Hotel Europa a pageturner. The most admirable aspect of the novel is Pfeijffer's fascination with his subject, and his engagement. Grand Hotel Europa is not only a consideration of our identity but also a contribution to its continuation." De Volkskrant

    Tip: Ilja Leonard Pfeiffer can also be seen in the Writers Unlimited event "Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer is Europa", in which he plays the role of Europe while being interrogated by psychiatrist Damiaan Denys, on Thursday, 16 January in Theater aan het Spui. He also participates in Friday Night Unlimited on 17 January, the varied festival evening program with 24 different events in six rooms at Theater aan het Spui and the Filmhuis Den Haag.

  • Winternachten 2020 – Friday Night Unlimited

    Book of My Life: Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

    Writers tell us about their favourite book: the book that inspires or touches them, that set their artistic, moral or intellectual compass. In short, the book they would recommend to everyone. Interview: Jet Steinz.

  • Winternachten 2020 – Friday Night Unlimited

    Dreaming Pays Off: the poetry of Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

    Pfeijffers' masterful use of language and inventive style - both daring and humorous - invite an interesting discussion about his poetic oevre. Of course he will also present his own work.

    In 1998 he won the C. Buddingh Prize for his poetry collection Van de vierkante man (Of the Square Man). His collection Idyllen (Idylls) won the 2015 Jan Campert Prize and the Awater Poetry Prize.

    Pfeijffer is also the editor of the anthology 500 gedichten die iedereen gelezen moet hebben (500 Poems Everyone Should Read, 2008, co-edited by Gert Jan de Vries), Er is alles in de wereld/Lucebert (There is Everything in the World/Lucebert, 2009) and De Nederlandse poezie van de twintigste en de eenentwintigste eeuw in duizend en enige gedichten (Dutch Poetry from the 20th and 21st Century in a Thousand and Some Poems, 2016).

    Tip: Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer and his novel Grand Hotel Europa will be the focus of the "Europe on the Couch" event on Thursday, 15 January at Theater aan het Spui. Playing the role of Europa, Pfeijffer will be interrogated by psychiatrist Damiaan Denys.

  • Winternachten 2017

    VPRO O.V.T. Live

    With: Arnon Grunberg, Bart Funnekotter, Bas Heijne, Eric Vloeimans, Ian Buruma, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Jos Palm, Karin Amatmoekrim, Nelleke Noordervliet, Paul van der Gaag

    NO TICKETS LEFT - Every Sunday morning, the relevance of history is the focus of one of the most popular radio programs in the Netherlands. This edition of OVT will be broadcast live from the festival's cozy Wintercafé in the Theater aan het Spui. Come watch and listen!

    Writers from the Winternachten Festival will join this programme for interviews: Ian Buruma, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Bas Heijne, Karin Amatmoekrim and Arnon Grunberg. Writer Nelleke Noordervliet will read her column. Bart Funnekotter presents the book reviews this week. With live music by trumpet player Eric Vloeimans. Programme in Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2017 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    The Tale of Two Cities

    Four writers, eight cities. In The tale of Two Cities, writers for whom "the city" has more than one face have their say. Dutch sociologist Corina Duijndam lived among disadvantaged youth in the suburbs of Paris and Amsterdam; Ibrahim Piotr Kalwas knows his birth city Warsaw like the back of his hand and his chosen home of Alexandria (Egypt) like the back of his other hand; Ilja Leonard Pfeiffer once swore by Leiden but is now stuck on Genoa (Italy); and Israel's Dorit Rabinyan jumps back and forth between New York, Tel Aviv (Israel) and Ramallah (Palestine) in her novel about impossible love between an Israeli and a Palestinian. Moderator: Christine Otten.

  • Winternachten 2016

    Writers' Fest

    With: Aad Meinderts, Adriaan van Dis, Anna Woltz, Annelies Verbeke, Dick van der Harst, Edward van de Vendel, Femke Halsema, Francis Broekhuijsen, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Job Cohen, Joris Wijsmuller, Lamin Kuyateh, Michael Krüger, Rodaan Al Galidi, Typhoon

    A festive event built around the presentation of the Jan Campert Prizes, the literary awards of the City of The Hague. In collaboration with the Jan Campert Foundation and the Dutch Foundation for Literature, Dutch literature is celebrated with various performances by writers, poets, and representatives of other disciplines (who honour the winners). The event is intended, in part, to highlight the state of Dutch literature. The afternoon culminates in the presentation of the Constantijn Huygens Prize for a whole body of work, which this year is awarded to Adriaan van Dis, beloved author and a great friend of the festival since day one. In Dutch

  • Winternachten 2008 – Winternachten vrijdagavond

    Liberation in literature

    How do characters and their creators, the writers, free themselves from oppressive restrictions? Where do they find their freedom? And when does freedom turn into unfreedom? Three writers discuss this. Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer has an Avatar in the virtual world without-rules-of-the-game Second Life. Laila Abuzaid (Morocco) finds her freedom within the framework of Moroccan tradition. Interviewer is Anne-Sophie van Neste.
    The earlier announced Turkish writer Ömer Zülfü Livaneli has cancelled his visit to the festival due to family circumstances. In English.

  • Winternachten 2006 – WINTERNACHT 2

    Out of the bottomless foundations of this charnel kingdom

    "Uit de bodemloze fundamenten van dit knekelrijk
    rijst een nieuwe schijnwereld,
    ontplooit zich leven à la opblaasboot."

    (out of the bottomless/ foundations of this/charnel kingdom/rises a new fake world/life unfolds/like a rubber dinghy). Thus according to Hans Verhagen in his collection of poems Eeuwige Vlam (Eternal flame). Hans Verhagen and the poets Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer and Frank Koenegracht will read from their recent work. Later this evening, this time with Gerrit Komrij, they will return with a satirical poem, written as an assignment for Winternachten. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2006 – WINTERNACHT 2

    Long live satirical poetry

    Een Antwerpse Mis-pop
    Een Swijn van den Bisschop
    Derft hier komen raesen
    En gnurcken, en knorren
    En schelden, en morren
    En kijven, en kauten
    Met Rijmen vol fauten

    This is how the poet W.G. Foquenbroch once wrote about an Antwerp bishop. The satirical poem has become less popular over the years. However, this is unfortunate, because the Dutch character lends itself very much to satire. Five poets each wrote a satirical poem on the Dutch character: Maria Barnas, Frank Koenegracht, Gerrit Komrij, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer and Hans Verhagen. They breath new life into this literary tradition. Chaired by Joyce Roodnat. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2004

    The future is not a fairy-tale

    With: André Klukhuhn, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Joke van Leeuwen, Manon Uphoff, Michaël Zeeman, Said el Haji, Thea Doelwijt

    Once apon a time there was a girl, that climbed to the top of a tower of books, high above the clouds. What is the view like up there? Is she safe? What will become of her? Authors Manon Uphoff and Thea Doelwijt, writer and performer Said El Haji, philosopher and writer André Klukhuhn, author and stand-up comedian Joke van Leeuwen and poet and rebel Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer wrote a fairy-tale for her. They give her a future, perhaps they will even present her with an ideal. Will she be happy? Listen to six adult fairy-tales and a conversation with the writers, led by Michaël Zeeman.

  • Winternachten 2003 – Winternacht 2

    Poetry by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

    Pfeijffer's poetry is alive and singing. As far as he is concerned, all poetry should write in this fashion.