Ursula Maria Mandel biography

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Ursula Maria Mandel

Ursula Maria Mandel Biography

Ursula Maria Mandel was born in Germany in 1941 and moved to the USA as an adult.

She published essays on Franz Kafka and on the fearless young life of polio victim Misti Washington. She received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (1987, University of Colorado at Boulder. Dissertation: A Comparative Study of Franz Kafka and Djuna Barnes) and taught at the University of Colorado, George Washington University, George Mason University, NOVA, and UVA Extension.

Her works include Twelve Quiet Tales A Collection of Short Stories, Diary of a Naïve, Bo on the Fencepost, The Good American and Memories of VMI.

She died in Virginia in October 2016.



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Interview

Ursula Maria Mandel discusses The Good American, how much is based on its subtitle True Events, and offers special advice to writers just starting out.

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 it.

Why did you then not write it as a Memoir?
...

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The Good American jacket
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