When I Was Better
When I Was Better spans twenty years of the troubled wartime marriage of István and Etelka and explores the tangled legacy of shame, grief, and trauma we inherit from our ancestors. The novel begins on the last day of the 1956 Revolution, as two hundred thousand refugees flee Hungary, and the Soviet tanks arrive to crush the national uprising. At 31, István is scared and disheartened, driving away from the heart of the conflict in Budapest. Bound by duty, he has withdrawn from his spirited participation in the fight against the Soviets to return to Etelka and their infant son in western Hungary. In the aftermath of the bloody rebellion, István makes another fateful decision that will sever the fragile threads of his small family and take him to Austria, and then on to Winnipeg, Canada where a devastating reunion awaits him.
A moving chronicle of a refugee crisis from a different time, When I Was Better examines the plight of displaced persons and the intergenerational impact of trauma on families. Six years in development, the novel has been compared to Sofi Oksanen’s Purge by acclaimed Icelandic novelist Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir and to Irène Némorovsky’s Suite Française by Adrienne Kerr.
“With sharp insight and the gifts of a natural, Bozi’s novel brilliantly chronicles the plight of an entire generation of Hungarians through the intimate portrait of two lovers tested by the political and personal betrayals that ripped through the heart of the twentieth century.” Dennis Bock
“When I Was Better is a masterfully written historical novel – a coming-of-age story filled with troubled love, totalitarianism and war. The story is rich, intriguing and the characters are very much flesh and blood. Reading it deepens our understanding of oppression, freedom and what turns ordinary people into refugees; a reality we must begin to comprehend on a personal level. History is not just history; this novel allows us an intimate view from a generational context. We need this book.” Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir