Possible Dreams is Jolanta Stefko’s first novel, though she is already well-known as a prize-winning poet. The hero of her book is an adolescent boy of above-average sensitivity and capabilities, brought up without a father in an environment that cannot meet his intellectual needs. Both these circumstances sharpen his sense of alienation and add to the many traumas of his adolescence. The book has an original structure, interweaving a fairly traditional narrative that presents the hero in various situations (at school, in contact with his peers, and during professional work experience) with a record of his hopes and dreams, which are full of fantasies and poetic images that only relate indirectly to the action of the novel yet speak volumes about the boy’s spiritual state. Stefko skilfully builds up a picture of his psyche, which is a muddle of some still very childish obsessions and reactions, and some surprisingly mature and critical thoughts about the world and the people he happens to live with. However, the only side of life he cannot really cope with is the sexual one – for him it is a realm of experiences that are alternately skin-deep or touch him to the core. It is the wounds he suffers here that decide the fate he ultimately chooses for himself. This is a very mature book about what it’s like to be immature and the hell of adolescence.
Jolanta Stefko has previously published two acclaimed, prize-winning collections of poetry, On No One’s Side (1998) and I Don’t Love Anyone Except Myself (2001). She is a winner of the Culture Foundation prize for young writers (for which she was nominated by Stanisław Lem).