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La Superba

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  2,818 ratings  ·  268 reviews
Deze roman is een monument voor een stad zoals er maar één is, Genua, La Superba (de hoogmoedige).
En meer nog dan een roman over een schokkend echte en labyrintische stad, is het een liefdesverhaal dat tragisch eindigt.
En meer nog dan een stadsroman en een liefdesroman is La Superba een boek dat de fantasie van een beter leven elders onderzoekt, vertelt en ontrafelt en
Paperback, 348 pages
Published February 2013 by De Arbeiderspers (first published 2013)
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Ine Ja hoor, zal ik het zaterdag meenemen?

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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  2,818 ratings  ·  268 reviews

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Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it
A grotesque voyage into the labyrinth of Genoa
It is very difficult to put a label on this novel, because the Dutch author Pfeijffer endlessly varies in different forms, themes and style registers. The main subject is clear: that is the Italian city of Genoa, where the author fled to five years before, leaving the complacent and predictable Netherlands where he was treated too much - in his own words - as an "important writer". Pfeijffer brings the proud and haughty city (La Superba) to life as
“But I want to be part of this world. I want to live in the labyrinth like a happy monster, along with thousands of other happy monsters. I want to nestle in the city’s innards. I want to understand the grinding of its old buildings’ teeth.”
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dutch
Witty & funny & kaleidoscopic. And it contains many interesting trivia, like this one: apparently, the papal states used the 'escudo' as currency. Very pleasant read, even though some parts could be a trifle shorter.
Francine Maessen
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
A a literary student, I get drilled by my teachers to not think of the writer as the same person as the main character, even if the book is written in the first person. And most of the time I can manage to do that. For example, in the books by Maarten 't Hart there is almost always a main character in the first person who strongly resembles our view of the writer. He's even called Maarten, sometimes. But still, at the end of the book, I know the difference between the book-Maarten and the ...more
Graham Oliver
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translated
I interviewed the translator of this book, here:
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An impressive but frustrating novel. It's very good on being an expat in Genoa, and the varying levels of assimilation and 'italianisation' of foreigners who live there, and it's a pleasure to read for someone who knows Genoa as it captures very well the feeling of wandering the maze of dark, dirty streets in the historic heart of the town.
The story of a middle aged author falling for a pretty young waitress and projecting onto her all his fantasies about Italy and la dolce vita is a little
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Close, but no cigar. A series of accurate observations of the low life in a magnificently decayed city as mediating north and south, offering the surprising conclusion that at the beginning of the 21st century emigration is equivalent to gender change, and hope, desire, and reality are transactional. A quick read and a provocative one, bringing Laurence Sterne up to date.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic novel!! Both entertaining and wise.
Luc Paredis
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bit too many street names of Genua and some annoying interludes (that kept me away from the story...), but great book after all
I doubt I will want to read anything else Pfeijffer has written.

He goes to so much effort to be 'cool', describing a character [presumably at least partly modeled on himself] who is obsessed with drinking and sex. The extremely long accounts of meetings with prostitutes of different ages and gender preferences get very tedious, I find. The main character seems to spend most of his waking hours every single day drinking in pubs, mostly outdoors.

Occasionally we get a nice description of the
Pfeijffer's book follows the exploits of his (fictional?) self as he travels to Genoa (aka La Superba), and explores the city, trying to become more intimitate with its people and culture. The metaphor of penetrating the city would be apt, since much of the book is taken up with his exploits of trying to sexually conquer the most beautiful women in Genoa (as well as a few others).

The book has no real narrative to speak of, and instead is a weaving together of conversations and exploits the
Mike Keirsbilck
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: r-52-books
This one is rather a half-assed attempt at a novel, I'd say. It roughly tells the story of the character of the author that left his country to go live in Genoa, nicknamed La Superba. He feels a bit displaced, and will interweave the story of immigration throughout the novel. The best parts of the novel are the stories of the immigrants he chronics. The first one is the story of a quirky Englishman, and the second a heart breaking story of an African refugee.
In comparison, the story of the
Dorothée Van Onna
Superb, magnificent novel about the city of Genua. A writer tries to capture the lifes and motivations of different inhabitants in this ancient city. While sitting in bars, on terrasses he meets all kinds of people: an Englishman (alcoholic), an immigrant from Africa.

While walking through dark alleys in obscure neighbourhoods leading to big squares, the principal character describes the history of the city, that is laid down in the old streets and bricks of the walls.

The protagonist directly
Will Madden
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some books you are glad you read, others are a pleasure to read. La Superba is one of the rare books that is both. I enjoyed the Italian setting, the overlarge characters, the personal introspection against the jarring background of the immigration crisis. These pages are presented as notes for a novel that ultimately will not be written. This conceit helps to enlarge one of the book's themes, the dissonance between the world as it is and how we constantly strive to reinvent it to fulfill our ...more
World Literature Today
"The book is set up as a 'literary' work, a novel of letters, elegantly penned by 'Ilja Pfeijffer,' a Dutch exile in Genoa, to his 'dear friend' and publisher in Amsterdam. The letters recount an interlinked series of short stories drawn from life in the old port city—La Superba—where vagrants and eccentrics cling to existence in medieval tenements and in café-bars around tiny squares in front of Renaissance churches..." - Anna Paterson

This book was reviewed in the September/October 2016 issue
Nhan Heaux
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the structure of this book It reads like a dairy of daily notes, which makes for short chapters and creates the effect of an easily digestible novel, and the author neatly ties everything together at the end. Ijla is effective in juxtaposing two types of immigration (one of luxury, the other of necessity) both drive by the dreams and the power of the imagination. It's a timely novel in light of the migrant crisis and can serve as a reminder of continued migrant struggles even after ...more
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Post-modern nonsense with only a glimmer of imagery and potential meaning. Choppy. And why did we need interludes with the Crusades and the Black Death? The interesting intermezzo about human trafficking from Africa to Genoa was more of a journalistic essay with tenuous connections to the narrative thread. The author may write sentences that win prizes, but this book did not win a prize from me.
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I thought it was great. It was clean but dirty. It was profound but utterly vulgar. It was poetic yet base. It was labyrinthine but well laid out. It's arrogant yet self-deprecating. It's East and West, but North and South too. It is run-on but thoroughly structured. It's beautifully written though harshly narrated.

I posit that whoever dislikes this book or doesn't appreciate it, lacks intellect, literary taste or a soul. And possibly all three.
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At turns disgusting, humourous, & touching. A timely look at emigration & immigration. A successful parody of the overwrought first person memoir-ish fictions by the likes of Knausgaard or Ben Lerner.
Frans W. van der Reijden
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: in-de-kast
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Sep 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Honest and very funny. Makes me think of Malta, a similar society although the author says nothing beats Genua. You easily come to love the people he meets and describes.
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those seeking a review in English, I've got a post up at Los Angeles Review of Books:
Ditta Reads
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Read it for my dutch-class. Didn't really like it. Some elements where nice, but overall it wasn't for me.
Wouter Fransoo
Oct 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Tanja Oosterbaan
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Bc 19 juni 2014:8
wonderful book, written in beautiful Dutch sentences. I loved it!
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Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer schrijft romans, verhalen, gedichten, columns, essays, kritieken, theaterstukken en songteksten. Hij woont en werkt in Genua. Pfeijffer was tot 2004 werkzaam als classicus aan de Universiteit Leiden. Hij is gespecialiseerd in het werk van de klassieke dichter Pindarus. In 1998 won hij de C. Buddingh’-prijs voor zijn dichtbundel Van de vierkante man. Voor de Boekenweek 2000 ...more
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“Vroeger, als kind, kreeg ik voor schoolreisjes een lijstje van dingen die ik niet moest vergeten mee te nemen. Het laatste item op het lijstje was altijd: je goede humeur.” 1 likes
“Het grootste probleem van vrouwen is dat ze geneigd zijn iets van mannen te verwachten. Het grootste probleem van mannen is dat ze beseffen dat van hen iets wordt verwacht. Dat besef maakt hen bang.” 0 likes
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