Susanna Mende grew up in the South of Germany, where she attended high school. She headed north to study Spanish literature, art history, and German philology at Hamburg University. During this time, she spent one semester in Madrid attending the University of Complutense. In 1994 she moved to Berlin, where she established her career as a literary translator for Spanish and Latin-American literature, later adding American novels and short stories to her work area. From 2003 to 2006, she taught translation at Universität Potsdam. In 2006, she studied German as a Foreign Language at the Friedländer Schule.
Besides translating and teaching, she writes reviews on crime fiction and photography.