Over the past decade Hafid Bouazza has emerged as the most influential contemporary Dutch writer with a multicultural profile. He is also the one who objected most vociferously to the general expectation that his personal circumstances influence, or even drive, his artistic expression. Bouazza, who was born in Morocco but has lived in the Netherlands since his early childhood, demands to be read away from his biographical background, even if his debut collection of short stories, De voeten van Abdullah (Abdullah’s Feet), is largely set in Morocco. With ‘Apolline’, the story of a transcultural love affair set in Amsterdam, Bouazza appears to respond to the expectation of his readers. However, this article argues that it is through this story in particular that Bouazza stakes out his artistic case: he is an author who takes his inspiration from art, who engages with intertextual play and who refuses to be shackled by and to the expectations of his readers. I aim to demonstrate that Bouazza enlists his highly venerated ‘literary forebear’ Vladimir Nabokov to underline this call. Bouazza’s literary trade involves simultaneously activating and denying the author’s personal circumstances, yet it is through engagement with the text as a literary gesture that its full interpretive potential is released. How nymphets become nymphs.