Ursula Maria Mandel lives and writes in Virginia. She has previously published essays on Franz Kafka and on the fearless young life of polio victim Misti Washington. She has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (1987, University of Colorado at Boulder. Dissertation: A Comparative Study of Franz Kafka and Djuna Barnes), She has taught at the University of Colorado, George Washington Unviversity, George Mason University, NOVA, and UVA Extension.
This biography was last updated on 12/05/2010.
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Ursula Maria Mandel discussing The Good American
What inspired you to write The Good American?
An argument with my mother some years ago. Considering that my mother had been dead nearly thirty years at the moment of this epiphany made this argument--and all the previous ones--very one-sided affairs. But the epiphany--the image of her on a train with a child--struck at a very angry moment, and it changed everything: me, my relationship to my mother, my writing, the confidence in my writing, because I remembered a story I had long forgotten: that she had traveled to the Russian sector in 1948 to get her sister's child out--a dangerous, fool-hearty, immensely brave act. The memory made me see her as I should have seen her all these years: as a human being in her own right, with all her dreams and disappointments, with her tremendous courage, hardships, failures, and, ultimately, laughter.
Since you give your novel the subtitle: A Novel Based on True Events is it safe to say that it is autobiographical?
Yes--as all fiction is autobiographical in terms of experience, emotions, and convictions, and no--because, although I am in the story, it's not my story.
What, in the story, is fact?
Probably seventy percent of...
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