Review of Plebanek’s Illegal Liaisons in Foreword Reviews

‘Fascinating…[E]xposes what can happen when the tables are turned in an ego-driven marriage, and a husband plays a secondary role next to a successful wife. Admirable command of language, as well as perceptive understanding of human character, sets this author’s work apart from run-of-the-mill erotic fiction. Strong description, creating a complete sensory experience, brings to vivid life each intimate encounter. The aftereffects, which linger long after the sex is over, permeate the scenes that follow.’ Julia Ann Charpentier, Foreword Reviews


More praise for Grażyna Plebanek’s Illegal Liaisons:

Illegal Liaisons voted Best Book of 2012 – ‘Illegal Liaisons is an excellent example of great European literature that otherwise wouldn’t have got a chance to be known in the UK – thanks to Stork Press, Plebanek now has legions of British fans, and rightly so.’ These Little Words about the selection.

‘A remarkable achievement. This riveting novel not only shows that intimate liaisons can feel every bit as “illegal” as they do dangerous, but it also offers (sometimes literally) penetrating insights into the confluence of the personal and the political–here, at the heart of a twenty-first-century Europe where conceptions of gender roles and morality clash, comingle, and are redefined. A must for anyone with a mind for the erotic who also values their mind.’ Catherine Millet, author of The Sexual Life of Catherine M, for the US Edition

‘Powerfully erotic and intelligent, this novel, set in the political capital of the new Europe, shows risk-taking, glossy young professionals changing lanes at top speed between sex, parenthood and work as they race after love and meaning.’ Maggie Gee, author of My Cleaner, The White Family (shortlisted for International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and Orange Prize for Fiction), My Animal Life.

‘Plebanek’s crisp and intelligent new novel is full of pitch-perfect descriptions, mostly but not exclusively about sex, and its contemplation…A merciless comedy of modern manners, and the politics of desire.’ Publishers Weekly

‘This book remains a fascinating look at the generation that are living the reality of Poland’s new role at the heart of Europe. It is also a brave examination of changing gender roles, and suggests that the old order is, at least among the ex-pat elite, very much on the way out. Jonathan is a house-husband, and his greatest happiness comes from his children, while the female characters reject feminine conventions.’ Claire Strickett, For Books’ Sake

Though the sensual scenes between the unfaithful couple are thrilling and explicit, offering some of the most pleasurable moments in the novel, Illegal Liaisons is much more than a story of sex amongst today’s Euro-elites. Moving beyond passion, the novel is in fact a smart study of identity in the ‘new Europe’, examining the rapidly evolving topography of modern society, be it the deconstruction of traditional gender roles, the changing nature of personal relationships, or the role of national consciousness in an increasingly Diasporic continent…unique among translated fiction currently available.’ Nudge

‘As Maggie Gee said, writing about sex is nothing new. But writing about it and doing it well is a talent of only a few, and Grazyna Plebanek is one of those few…Yes, there is a fair amount of graphic erotic scenes in the novel, but they are there for a reason. Plebanek writes about sex with responsibility, good taste and, more importantly, as a tool to give meaning and credibility to her characters. That’s what differentiates Illegal Liaisons from you-know-which other novels.’ Blogravia

‘Intense and fascinating novel that questions the norm of family life as well the necessity of monogamy and the morality of sex…Plebanek’s writing is unembarrassed about sex and emotions, and is charged with a deep sadness as well as eroticism…thoughtful, unashamed, brave, and ultimately beautiful.’ Little Words

‘Plebanek is exceptionally good at depicting the dynamics of relationships… the author captures the minute shifts in the way we relate to one another that force us to renegotiate our place in the world every day, if not every hour…a very good read. As a chronicler of domestic dynamics, Plebanek is up there with the best of them. This, the first of her novels to be translated into English, deserves to do well.’ A Year of Reading the World


Read an interview with Grażyna Plebanek.

Read Danusia Stok’s reflections on translating Illegal Liaisons.

Grażyna Plebanek’s Illegal Liaisons was published on 15 October.

The US edition is out in August 2013, published by New Europe Books.

Buy the paperback or eBook Kindle edition.