Empire of Kalman the Cripple by Yehuda Elberg
A character study that reads with the suspense of a detective novel, The Empire of Kalman the Cripple is the story of an individual living in a Jewish shtetl in Poland, just before World War II. True-to-life characters - saints, dunces, Jews, non-Jews, rabbis, and petty politicians - populate Kalman's shtetl. This unlikely hero is a cunning ill-tempered man who maliciously seeks revenge on others. Yet, in his portrayal, Elberg paints Kalman as a tortured soul, one with whom the reader ultimately has no choice but to sympathize.