So having mouthed off about the unsexiness of those European Union book awards, I got a message from a Macedonian translator, my friend Elizabeta Lindner. She pointed out that there has been one massive success story to come out of the 2010 awards. The Macedonian writer Goce Smilevski got one of the twelve sub-prizes for emerging writers, and his winning novel has now sold into at least twenty languages. Twenty! It does indeed look like fascinating stuff: Sigmund Freud's Sister imagines the titular heroine making friends with Franz Kafka's sister in a concentration camp, and will be published in English by Penguin US/UK.
Also, I have to admit that the author interviews on the award website from last year are a nice personal touch. So, yes, they're still obscure and have a whiff of bureaucracy about them, but for what we call "smaller" languages these awards may have more significance, as Elizabeta pointed out. Then again, an extract from the novel was also featured in Dalkey Archive's Best European Fiction 2010 anthology and his previous book, Conversation with Spinoza, made it into English too. So who knows what weighed the scales in his favour.