Books by Roberto Arlt

MAD TOY by Roberto Arlt
Released: June 1, 2001

This is the first (1926) novel published by the neglected Argentinian postmodernist writer (1900-42) whose phantasmagoric The Seven Madmen (English translation, 1999) rivals the masterpieces of Cortázar, García Márquez, and Onetti. It's the story of Silvio Astier (told by himself in old age), a street thug inspired by "the thrilling literature of outlaws and bandits," and educated in crime by his Fagin-like mentor Rengo (a charmer of a villain if there ever was one). Mad Toy bears interesting resemblances as well to both Don Quixote and Luis Buñuel's classic naturalist film Los Olvidados. In addition to the novel's own considerable interest, Aynesworth's illuminating remarks about Arlt's vigorous "polyglot style" shed further light on a richly entertaining and unquestionably important work. Read full book review >
THE SEVEN MADMEN by Roberto Arlt
Released: March 1, 1999

This new translation restores to English The Seven Madmen (paperback original $14.99; Mar.; 249 pp.; 1-85242-592-X): This new translation restores to English a classic (1929) Argentinian novel whose author (1900—42). the son of German immigrants, wryly memorialized the polyglot vitality of Buenos Aires as a menacing objective correlative of his own—and, by extension, modern man's—alienation and psychic disintegration. Arlt's rootless protagonist Remo Erdosain (who appears elsewhere in his fiction) is an "underground man" recognizably akin to Dostoevsky's and Kafka's antiheroes; a romantic whose (very literal) search for his soul brings him into contact with variously anarchic "madmen" (including a eunuch, an astrologer, and an unforgettably misanthropic pimp) whose urgent, distracted voices blend in a cockeyed symphony of cynicism and despair. Undoubtedly a very influential book and, in its engagingly perverse way, a kind of masterpiece. Read full book review >