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The Lost Button


Author: Irene Rozdobudko

Translators: Michael M. Naydan and Olha Tytarenko

The Lost Button received first place in the “Coronation of the Word” competition in 2005 and subsequently was made into a feature film.

In early 80’s Ukraine is stricken by perestroika and struggles for “democracy”, Afghanistan is in flames of a war where hundreds of eighteen-year-old youths are killed every day. Their peer, Dan, a student of cinematography, hardly cares about social problems anywhere on the planet. But one fatal encounter with a mysterious young lady in a picturesque corner of the Carpathians changes his life forever. Unable to let go of his love after getting lost with her in the woods for one beautiful night, the young man’s fascination with the actress turns into an obsession. He deliberately goes through all the hell circles in Afghanistan, striving to burn out the traces of his unrequited love. Years later his native country just starts experiencing a real advertising boom amidst which he finds a new way to apply his creative talent and inner strengths. However, the past of his love rushes back into his life and now this obsession takes him from one continent to another.

The taut psychological thriller The Lost Button keeps the reader transfixed. The novel encompasses an entire era from the mid-70s of the previous century till the modern day with its geography stretching over the European region including Kiev, the Ukraine’s periphery, Russia and Montenegro, and at last the United States. It explores evergreen concepts of love, devotion, and betrayal and emphasizes the idea that whenever and wherever one lives, a tiny detail like a lost button has the power to set off a chain of events that would lead to either one’s greatest happiness or one’s greatest tragedy. It is about not looking back, but always valuing what you have – today and forever.

The Lost Button received first place in the “Coronation of the Word” competition in 2005 and subsequently was made into a feature film.

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Called “The Lady Detective of Ukrainian literature” by the media for her splendid earlier detective books, Irene Rozdobudko burst onto the literary scene with a dozen award winning titles ranging from a light absurd comedy to a heavy psychological thriller. She quickly claimed a place among the masters of modern literature in her native Ukraine.

A journalism graduate of Kyiv National University, the author somewhat incongruously began her career as a waitress, later taking occasional jobs in a circus and a video store. Her talent for the written word eventually came to fruition when she found work as a journalist in Kyivbut her career took an interesting turn when she began working on national radio and as an editor of two popular magazines, before turning to novel writing.

Rozdobudko has a lively, engaging writing style that makes her works accessible to a wide reading audience: she skilfully pinpoints those aspects of human nature that drive decisions and give direction to a person’s life. Her cinematographic vision and psychologically complicated, delicately crafted characters make her novels perfect for big screen adaptation (The Lost Button was recently made into a film) as well as for the bookshelf of a devotee of quality modern literature. Rozdubudko’s artistic brilliance has won her the national prize in literature “Coronation of the Word” three times.

Endorsements and Review Quotes

“Naydan and Tytarenko succeed admirably in making Rozdobudko’s constant use of metaphor and simile stand out”. Olena Jennings, East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies

“The Lost Button is quite a fascinating book because it goes from a tale of obsession to a story about a man who simply can’t see the good in his life, then it becomes a mystery about a missing person and finally ends with a psychological analysis of how a woman reacted to betrayal and went missing. It is utterly fascinating and I loved it, even if the obsession part nearly made me pull my hair out.” BOOKFOOLERY blog

“This book is remarkable for what it has to say about love. It encompasses the way we love as humans, selfishly and selflessly, and in so doing make the object of our affection an idol. Or, a ghost of who they really are. This is a tremendously creative, and thought provoking novel, one which I savored throughout the weekend.” DOLCEBELEZZA literary blog

“Ever been in love? I’m sure many of you have. How deeply do or did you love this person? What if this person didn’t return your affections? How far would you go to profess your love for this person? Would you let this love consume your life? Is it love or obsession? I was thinking all of those things while reading The Lost Button by Irene Rozdobudko.” AS I TURN THE PAGES literary blog

Other Publications:

The New Generation of Ukrainian Female Writers/RUSSIANMIND

Two great books by new Ukrainian female writers/SPAGHETTIGAZETTI

Readers on Amazon say:

Alexander Motyl: “Michael Naydan has produced another excellent translation of a piece of contemporary Ukrainian fiction. Kudos! It wonderfully conveys the excitement of Rozdobudko’s prose and introduces Western readers to one of Ukraine’s bestselling authors.”

Natalie: “The Lost Button is one of those novels that keeps you captivated until the end and makes you think about questions such as: What is real love? How do we differentiate fixation and obsession from genuine affection? Why do we keep forgetting nature and its healing powers? and many others. However, it does not offer answers other than those you find yourself. Descriptions of nature that mysteriously heals or potion/wine which makes you fall in love during mystical summer nights bring back the motif of folklore and fantasy which are particularly interesting. While the narrator leads us into his inner world and we easily identify with him and understand his actions even if we would not approve of them at all. The novel is full of interesting twists, symbolism and psychological analysis – it is definitely worth reading.”

Cynthia Lynne Rogan Ramirez:“The Lost Button follows a man’s obsession for the woman who most perfectly touched his imagination and who most perfectly loved him. This novel explores the heart’s mysterious works and how lovers often lose sight of what is crucial in themselves and each other through their thoughts that become translated into their actions. I particularly loved the scenes up in the mountains when Liza is found by the little, old lady. Thank God for sweet people in the world! I could smell the apples and the other foodstuffs, I could see the mist, and I could feel the existence of magic. The Lost Button helps the reader to remember that kernel of truth that we all once knew: love truly exists and in many forms. It is what makes the world bearable and even beautiful.”

Mar’iana: “This beautifully written, masterfully translated love story takes us into a mysterious world of powerful emotions which only youth can fully capture. Engrossing from start to finish.”

About Irene Rozdobudko:

“Rozdobudko has become a master of the detective novel and psychological thriller (see WLT Nov. 2011, 60-63). She focuses on storytelling, and her writings are highly accessible to a mass readership. Many of her works are being turned into movies, thereby increasing her popularity. She often authors the film scripts herself. “

Irene Rozdobudko’s guest post for THE LITTLE READER LIBRARY blog


Irene Rozdobudko


182 pages

Publication date

10th June 2012

Book Format

Hardcover, Paperback, EPUB, Kindle, PDF

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