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On Books: Rita Bozi shares “When I Was Better”


“When I was better I didn’t brag.” That’s an old Hungarian saying, which provides the title for a new historical novel about love during a tumultuous era in Hungarian history. Released this month by Atmosphere Press, When I Was Better is the latest work by Calgary-based artist Rita Bozi.

Rita describes herself as a retired dancer and actor (whom you may have caught everywhere from The X-Files to Guy Maddin’s cinematic classic, Tales from the Gimli Hospital). For the past many years, Rita has been pursuing parallel careers as a Somatic Relational Trauma and Psychedelic-Informed Therapist, a multi-disciplinary artist, and a playwright. And these days, she’s also a novelist!

When I Was Better is an intriguing love story that’s set against the backdrop of the Nazi invasion of Hungary, the ensuing Soviet occupation, and lastly, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Just ahead of the book launch event June 30th at Shelf Life Books in Calgary, Rita joined Lisa Wilton for Tuesday’s Traffic Jams. They talked about this new story of long-ago love in the face of autocracy and refugee crises, and how it may connect to the moment we’re living in right now: