For the past two years, I’ve collaborated with Matthias “Max” Drawe in the Brazilian version of his book, which he wrote in both German and English. Actually, we first started working together on technical projects back in 2015, since Max has a translation company in Brazil and needed me to work on some English translations. When he mentioned he was writing a book about his time in West Berlin in the 1980s, I was curious to read it and thrilled to be part of the process.
Max is from Germany and English is his second language, but he is also fluent in Portuguese. So, while he was confident in his writing skills in his native and second languages, he decided to turn to fellow translators to make his book available in other languages.
After getting “Wilde Jahre in West-Berlin” and “Wild Years in West Berlin” crafted just the way he wanted, rewriting the first draft to change it from the third person to the first person―thus making it more personal and natural in preparation for audio book versions―Max joined forces with translator René Alfaro to translate his book into French and Spanish, then contacted me to review his own Brazilian version, “Anos selvagens em Berlim Ocidental”.
Proofreading Max’s work was a delight. His Portuguese translation read well, and I only needed to adjust some conjugation issues because Portuguese verbs are indeed tricky. We also discussed tone and 1980s slangs to make sure that the final version would sound as natural as the originals. Our exchanges were highly productive, and the book is now available in Portuguese for Brazilian readers to learn more about a group of anarchist okupas who tried to make it work as squatters in West Berlin, before The Wall came down in 1989. The details are so vivid, readers will few transported to that unique era where young people born in post-War Germany were going against everything imposed by conventional society.