The Torch-Bearer Prize is given yearly to a title considered to have the most potential to succeed outside Finland.
The jury has stated about the novel:
“In Matara, all the opportunities that fiction provides are used in full. The deeper the reader dives into the seemingly real world of the novel, the more dream-like it feels. Children talk just like grown-ups; the neighbourhood forest proves to be an endless wilderness. A completely new world is born with its own rules and laws, possessing a tremendous immersive power.”
Matara is a story about boys’ games gone an inch too seriously. In the novel, boys of a summer camp spend their days in the realm they have built: the Republic of Matara. It has a law, a societal structure, plotting for power and bonds between citizens, as any real state. Under the guidance of his older brother, a young boy trains to be a scout. While spying, the pair come upon an enemy camp: war is at hand.
The novel was also nominated for the most prestigious literary award in the country, Finlandia Prize.
HLA’s authors have been awarded the prize for the two previous years in a row: Minna Rytisalo received it for her novel Mrs C. in 2019, and last year, the winner was Marisha Rasi-Koskinen’s Lynchian masterpiece REC. In 2015, the prize was given to another HLA author, Finlandia Prize winner Anni Kytömäki for her debut novel Goldheart.