Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer (b. 1968), a classicist by training, 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 has written stage plays, essays, columns, travel accounts, stories, political satires and four novels written in the spirit of Rabelais. In his other novels, he has played a game with world literature and divided the critics between those proclaiming him a genius and those who thought him an antiquated stylist. He’s a bit of both. La Superba is Pfeijffer’s masterpiece, and was greeted with unanimous praise, including the most prominent recognition with the awarding of Libris Literatuurprijs, the Netherlands’ most prestigious literary award, and the Tzum Prize, awarded for “the most beautiful sentence of the year,” which he has won twice.
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A masterpiece, 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.