NATIVE SAN FRANCISCAN (ALMOST)
Anjali Andrea Alban was born in Baltimore, MD. while her father, Jan Alban, was finishing his pediatric residency at Johns Hopkins. He moved the family out to San Francisco to start his 50 year-long career as an "old school" doctor. Anjali took her first steps at their home on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. She grew up listening to exotic tales of her Dad's childhood in Shanghai's French Quarter (where his family had fled to from Odessa, Russia in 1927 to escape Stalin's Secret Police).
Anjali self-published a poetry book at the age of six—a hand-lettered scroll tied with red ribbon, and sold it to her mother, Donna, for a nickel. She longed to go to college to learn how to write books. She prepared for that faraway day by cultivating friendships with the college students who parked their cars on her street near San Francisco State University. She dressed up in a lemon-yellow dress and shiny, black mary-janes, and flashed a peace sign at the "hippies" from the foot of the driveway.
Miss Aitken was Anjali's favorite teacher at Commodore Sloat Elementary School. She wrote poems about each of her third-grade students and held a spelling bee every Friday. The winner was awarded an apple made from red construction paper with his or her name printed on it. Many years later, an apple tree puppet would accompany Anjali to her K-3 school visits in celebration of THE HAPPINESS TREE, a rhyming ode for tree-huggers of all ages.
SWEET (AND SASSY) SIXTEEN
The Shanghai stories took novel form after 16 years of pouring through family photos, and many, many text revisions. Anjali's debut YA novel, ANYA'S WAR, is the story of a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl in 1937 war-torn Shanghai, who finds an abandoned Chinese baby girl in the gutter and is determined to save her. The book explores a little known passage in Jewish Holocaust history. It is a collage of Jan Alban's anecdotes— he found the baby when he was eight— his older sister, Lily's photo-journalism, and Anjali's extensive research. Jan Alban died before the book was published but he did read the first two chapters. Lily is the real Anya and the namesake of Anjali's daughter, Lily Camille. ANYA'S WAR is an honor book of the American Library Association's Amelia Bloomer Project, chosen for its bold female character and feminist content.
Anjali studied Rhetoric at UC Berkeley but yearned to write her first novel. She took a "sabbatical" to write full-time, become a natural food retailer, run a marketing firm, and raise up two children. After her novel was in contract, she returned to school and received her B.A. cum laude in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.