Roberto Arlt (1900-1942), celebrated in Argentina for his tragicomic, punch-in-the-jaw writing during the 1920s and 1930s, was a forerunner of Latin American "boom" and "postboom" novelists such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende. Mad Toy, Arlt's most acclaimed novel, is set against the chaotic background of Buenos Aires in the early twentieth century. Set in the badlands of adolescence, where acts of theft and betrayal become metaphors for creativity, Mad Toy is equal parts pulp fiction, realism, detective story, expressionist drama, and creative memoir. An immigrant son of a German father and an Italian mother, Arlt as a youth was poor, often hungry, and dropped out of school in the third grade. In Mad Toy he brings his personal experience to bear on the lives of his characters. Published in 1926 as El Juguete Rabioso, the novel follows the adventures of Silvio Astier, a poverty-stricken and frustrated youth who is drawn to gangs and a life of petty crime. As Silvio struggles to bridge the gap between exuberant imagination and the sordid reality around him, he becomes fascinated with weapons, explosives, vandalism, and thievery, despite a desperate desire to rise above his origins. Flavoured with a dash of romance, a hint of allegory, and a healthy dose of irony, the novel's language varies from the cultured idiom of the narrator to the dialects and street slang of the novel's many colourful characters. Mad Toy has appeared in numerous Spanish editions and has been adapted for the stage and for film. It is the second of his novels to be translated into English.