Tranorna flyger söderut

Tranorna flyger söderut When the Cranes Fly South

Bo is running out of time. Yet time is one of the few things he’s got left; his body is failing him and his quiet existence is only broken up by the daily visits from his home care team. His hands soon too weak to open the precious jar housing the scarf of his Alzheimer-stricken wife Frederika, which still bears her scent. Fortunately he still has his beloved elkhound Sixten for company, only now his son insists upon taking the dog away. The very same son that Bo is wanting to mend his relationship with before his time is up. The threat of losing Sixten stirs up a whirlwind of emotions that make him look back at his life, his fatherhood and the way he expresses his love.

When the Cranes Fly South is a profoundly moving debut about an aging man’s fight to keep the power over his own life.


  • “[A] powerful debut about an elderly man’s final months in life. /…/ When Lisa Ridzén conjures up the protagonist Bo it is with such credibility one could almost think this is a literary reportage. It’s impressive how she as a debut author succeeds in writing a novel mainly set in and around a country house and yet manages to fill it with such a wealth of substance. The language brings us close to the old man (…). Some way into the read I come to realize Bo is one of those protagonists that is going to stay with me for a long time. At times I’m so taken by his stubborn struggle to keep his last source of joy in life, Sixten the dog, that I almost have to put the book down. Besides being an affecting portrayal of old age, Lisa Ridzén has written an almost subversive novel (…) in a time when media executives can dismiss the elderly as a relevant subject matter there’s a touch of rebellion to the depiction of Bo.”

    Gefle Dagblad, Sweden

  • “Everything [about the character Bo] feels so genuine and we get so close to him. /…/ This is a well-crafted debut. /…/ Profoundly moving.”

    Länstidningen Östersund, Sweden

  • “A moving human fate is here portrayed with compassion and great eye for the details. It’s a tender and poignant tale about aging, friendship and the love between man and animal.”

    BTJ, Sweden

  • “A sensational debut. /…/The protagonist and narrator Bo is sure to live on vibrantly and lastingly in the minds of everyone who reads this novel. /…/ [When the Cranes Fly South] holds so much credible wisdom, a beautiful poignancy, a fantastically empathetic emotional sway and such a stunning language. The fact that Kerstin Ekman can conjure a somewhat similar ambience in The Wolf Run is conceivable; she is a long-time genius and roughly of the corresponding age. Having a thirty-five year old debut author accomplish this (…) is simply beyond comprehension. One can simply gratefully applaud.”

    Kapprakt, Sweden

  • “Lisa Ridzén accomplishes to charge her debut When the Cranes Fly South with a huge amount of love and respect. Bo, a grumpy old man who struggles to find the right words, slowly makes his way into my heart and I find myself profoundly moved.”

    M-Magasin, Sweden

  • “A genuinely touching reading experience, as down-to-earth, heartfelt, and sincere as a Johnny Cash song. A book that will make you want to call your father and see how he’s doing. ”

    Dagens Næringsliv, Leif Bull, Norway

  • “A strong and subtle debut by Lisa Ridzén which hits the reader right in the heart (…) deeply moving.”


    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • “Heartbreakingly beautiful. (…) Astonishingly moving about an old man’s last summer (…) a book that should be read by everyone who works with old people. Actually, it should be read by all of us. ”


    Dagbladet, Norway

  • “The most acclaimed debut of the spring. Everyone who I’ve recommended this novel to have gotten back to me with a trembling voice and said “This one is simply fantastic!”. /…/ A tender, moving and emotional tale.”

    M-Magasin, Sweden

  • “An emotional read. /…/ This story poignantly demonstrates what it’s like to grow old and struggle to maintain one’s dignity and independence. /…/ [When the Cranes Fly South] is both moving and thought-provoking and invokes a strong sense of empathy for Bo and his situation.”

    Dövas Tidning, Sweden

  • “An incredibly wonderful novel about a man and his dog and all that happens when he slowly is denied the right to live his life on his terms and to keep his dog. The best of the year.”

    Nya Wermlands-Tidningen, Sweden

  • “A debut that deservedly has been praised to the skies. /…/ Nothing is simply black or white, but beautiful and sad at the same time. Occasionally the story almost vibrates with empathy.”

    Vi Läser, Sweden

  • “Under [Ridzén’s] magnifying glass [Bo’s memories and everyday matters] become intriguing and meaningful. “Keeping your dementia-addled wife’s scarf in a jar just to be able to remember her scent is fundamentally pathetic, after all” Bo thinks, but it does tug hard at the reader’s heartstrings. /…/ It’s incredibly emotional, but never excessively sentimental. /…/ When the Cranes Fly South is a moving and well-written debut that leaves you wanting more.


    Hufvudstadsbladet, Finland

  • “Losing control over one’s life, to be completely at the mercy of assisted living – for good or bad. That is a scenario that many fears. This is also the fear of the protagonist in this tender, loving portrayal of an old man’s final time in life. /…/ An impressive debut that goes straight to the heart, and that it’s impossible not to be deeply affected by.”

    Aftonbladet, Sweden

  • “Lisa Ridzén’s When The Cranes Fly South has become an acclaimed word-of-mouth sensation, and it isn’t hard to see why. A warm debut (…). A gripping tale about a father and son trying to find their way back to one another. /…/ Poignant and painful but with beautiful strokes of simple everyday joy.”

    Strömstads Tidning, Sweden

  • “One of the most wonderful things I’ve read in a very long time.”

    Blekinge Läns Tidning, Sweden

  • “[Lisa Ridzén has] written a warm and moving tale about the various tribulations of old age. In addition she has accomplished a complex portrait of Bo, the novel’s protagonist. /…/ Ridzén employs a soft language and writes with a relaxed, everyday tone that is pleasant to read. The present smoothly transitions into the past in the same sentence (…) Everything feels realistic and credible, both in tone and details.”, Sweden

  • “[Lisa Ridzén] masters the art of portraying a human fate. /…/ The flashbacks on love and friendships awakens many thoughts. Beautiful and well-written.”

    Allers, Sweden

  • “[Our critic] has with great pleasure read Lisa Ridzén’s debut. (…)  He notes that her portrayal of the protagonist is filled with warmth and heartfelt tenderness. /…/ Ridzén writes in a language characterized by intimacy and depicts the milieus with great presence.”

    Opulens, Sweden

  • “A truly great novel. /…/ I have to say that I rarely cry reading a book, but here I did! I was genuinely moved (…) Very powerful.”

    SVT Go'kväll, Sweden

  • “[When the Cranes Fly South] is a gentle, warm, and down-to-earth portrayal of a man’s final stage of life. /…/ Bo’s story goes straight into your heart. How short our time on earth is and yet…how marvelously filled with emotions, ambiances, moments, triumphs and shortcomings it is. In everyday life Lisa Ridzén is a doctorate student in sociology and researches masculinity and emotions in the Swedish, rural far north. I doubt anyone could be more well-suited than her for guiding us readers through Bo’s final moments on earth and I think she accomplishes that delicate task astoundingly well.”

    Alingsås Tidning, Sweden

  • “How can this be a debut?! When the Cranes Fly South by Lisa Ridzén is a fantastic and unforgettable reader’s experience that will be sure to pull at your heartstrings. My emotions are all over the place. Right from the get go I’m hooked. I love the presence, the pace, the insider perspective and the entire ambience. It’s poignant and incredibly touching. A simply astounding, tender and well-written novel about an elderly man’s final days. A life tale about friendship, relationships, aging and atonement. A powerful read that awakens emotions, empathy and tears. /…/ This is a gripping, vulerable, intimate and still everyday tale that awakens strong emotions and moves me to tears. A book that invokes strong recognition and makes a profound impression. I’m impressed by the multi-facetted character portrayal, the literary composition and the credibility that makes the novel feel akin to a nuanced autobiography. /…/ I hope and believe that this novel will win all the prices out there. That it deserves.”

    Agneta Norrgård, Literary critic, Sweden

  • “Poignant and true about growing old, loss and rememberance. Enjoyed it!”

    Åbo Akademi, Sweden

  • “A heartwarming, raw and assured debut that awakens so many emotions and thoughts. A novel that has rapidly spread word-of-mouth from reader to reader and has even made the most seasoned, thick-skinned bookworms take out the tissues.”

    Bookie, Sweden

Photo: Gabriel Liljevall Lisa Ridzén
  • Fiction
Reading material

Swedish edition

English translation

Rights sold

Arab World, Takween

Bulgaria, Ciela

Canada, PRH Vintage

Croatia, Sonatina

Czech Republic, Host

Denmark, Politiken

Estonia, Rahva Raamat

Finland, Tammi

Germany, Btb

Greece, Metaixmio

Hungary, Animus

India, Ulysses Press

Israel, HaKibbutz

Italy, Neri Pozza

Korea, The Bookman

Lithuania, Alma Littera

Netherlands, Meulenhoff

North Macedonia, Sakam Knigi

Norway, Kagge

Poland, Albatros

Portugal, Penguin Random House

Romania, Humanitas

Serbia, Vulkan

Slovakia, Grada

Slovenia, Beletrina

Spain, RBA

Sweden, Forum

Türkiye, Timas

UK, PRH Doubleday (World English)

Ukraine, One More Page

US, PRH Vintage

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