Franz Kafka is Alive and Well in Latvia, and Madris is his Name

As a writer who puts his heart into his writing, I am delighted to be published in Latvia, and grateful to the people who found me and published me, in Latvia, in the Czech Republic (there was a second Czech publisher interested, but could not get my novel), and in countries such as Austria, Italy, Israel, and so on. I am even in correspondence with one of my Latvian readers, who found me on the Net. There are authors who give their books away for nothing, and there are other authors who do not even mind that they are pirated, so long as it means that they are being read, preferably by poor people who cannot afford to buy books.

However, I don't think of modern Latvia as a particularly impoverished country, and doubt that my Latvian publishers, who profited from my book (and deserve to), are either that contemptuous of writers and ethics, or so poor that they have holes in their socks and just one pair of shoes.  So I would really appreciate it if they paid me what was fair and due: for publishing me. Apparently they paid some con man, some completely unauthorized person I have never met, and argued that, therefore, they had paid me. Publishers wouldn't exist without writers, and should make it a principle not to hurt or cheat writers.  (A quixotic hope, given that it has also been an honorable publishing tradition to cheat authors--ever since the publisher of the Part I of Don Quixote cheated Miguel Cervantes of all of his royalties.)

So here's what I wrote to my Latvian friend, after being subjected to Madris's Kafkaesque logic, once again relayed through her back to me:

I can't believe that Madris is making less sense than a 5-year-old. If, one evening, you were to return to your home and find it occupied by strangers and say, "Why are you in my home, and why are you barring me from entering my own home?" And they say, "Well, we just bought your house from your agent, so we now own it." And you say, "Which agent? Who?" And they say, "Well, xxxx, who said he was your agent."

And you reply, "But I have never even heard of anyone like this xxxx in my life. Just because you paid this so-called agent money and he ran away with it, it does not mean that you own my house."

And this is exactly what Madris has done, and I tried to explain this to them, but they don't understand. I have never heard of this agent, and he never even contacted me, let alone paid me. So how can this man sell my book to Madris? And how can Madris say they paid me if they paid some stranger in some bazaar in Istanbul or Cyprus?

I don't think that any publisher in the world would fail to understand this simple logic, but Madris does not seem to: the book has been published without due authorization from the rightful copyright holder, and therefore they still owe the rightful owner the royalties. If they trusted some con-man and purchased the Brooklyn Bridge from him, it's not fair to make me (or Brooklynites) pay for it: we all make mistakes, and many of us are occasionally cheated by some crook, but we cannot demand that others pay for our mistakes.

I end with a prayer:

Our Kafka,
Who art Alive and Well in Latvia
Madris is Thy Name
May Thy Royalty Advance Come
To This Author on Earth
Before His Departure for Heaven.

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