Classicist, poet, engaged and prolific writer.
Ilja Leonard Pfeiffer, a classical scholar at Leiden University until 2004, made his debut with the poetry collection Van de vierkante man (of the square man, 1999), an homage to the experimental poetry of his great models Pindar and Lucebert. In the years that followed, in addition to poetry he wrote plays, essays, columns, travel accounts, stories, lyrics, political satires and four novels in the spirit of Rabelais. In Het grote baggerboek (The Big Book of Dredgings, 2004) and Het ware leven, een roman (Real Life, a Novel, 2006), he played a game with world literature and so divided the critics. In La Superba (The Superb, 2013), his important novel about migration and an ode to Genoa, the city where Pfeijffer lives and works, the author clearly displays his engagement. The book was awarded the prestigious Dutch Libris Literature Prize and has been translated into three languages. In 2015, seven years after his last poetry collection but one, Idyllen (Idylls) appeared, a new collection full of bravura, idiosyncratic finds and moments of reflection. This year Pfeijffer won the Dutch VSB Poetry Prize for the best Dutch-language poetry collection.
Aufbau Verlag, 2016
Translated by Rainer Kersten
Original title: La Superba (De Arbeiderspers, 2013)
La Superba is a Rabelaisian stylistic tour-de-force set in Genoa, the labyrinthine port city (nicknamed ‘La Superba’) where the author has lived for the last six years. Migration, legal and illegal, is the central theme of this autobiographical novel about a writer who becomes trapped in his walk on the wild side in a mysterious and exotic Old World city.