Hoda is a prostitute, but that is not the most important fact about her. Earthy, bawdy, vulnerable, and big-hearted, she is the daughter of an impoverished Jewish couple who emigrated from Russia to Canada to escape persecution. Growing up in a ghetto of Winnipeg, she experiences cruelty and bigotry early and fights back with humor and anger, which is something to behold as her young body takes on gargantuan proportions. In the neighborhood, she is considered a crackpot and worse. In truth, she is a cracked pot, a flawed human being, but her quest for love, which brings hope out of humiliation, is one of the most memorable in modern fiction. Crackpot, set in the period between two world wars, is Adele Wiseman's comic vision, for all its darkness. Somewhat satirically, the novel touches on puritanical hypocrisy and the inhumanity of institutions, notably the schools and the welfare system. Hoda, caught in a web of relationships beginning with her blind father and humpbacked mother, is its great heartbeat.