by Louis Sachar
What a name, right? Elya Yelnats is Stanley's "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather" who lives in the 1850s. It's his broken promise to Madame Zeroni that dooms the Yelnats family to one major curse. We first encounter him as a young boy in Latvia, smitten with the beautiful village girl Myra Menke. After discovering that Myra is empty-headed and not worthy of his devotion, he flees to America to build a new life. Things don't turn out too well for him and his cursed descendants, though.