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  Name:   Ms. Jennifer Anglade Dahlberg
Month: August 2006
Schools: Columbia College
BA-Political Science 1993
Organization: Self-employed
Title: Novelist

"Perserverance, perseverance and more perseverance are the words I would use to describe my journey to become a published novelist," says Jennifer Anglade Dahlberg about the publication of her debut novel, Uptown and Down, by New American Library/Penguin in October 2005. Ms. Dahlberg, a 1993 graduate of Columbia College, had always had a passion for reading and writing, but as the daughter of Haitian immigrants who deeply valued education and stressed the importance of a secure career, she never thought she would have the opportunity to realize her dream. After graduation she began working as a consultant for an executive search firm and was quickly consumed by the professional rat race. It wasn't until her Swedish fiancé proposed marriage and a move to his native Stockholm in 1997 that she was able to take what she describes as a "personal sabbatical" and start writing.

"The essential plot and characters of Uptown and Down had been on my mind for a number of years. The novel was inspired by a Vanity Fair article about the rise of African-American music industry entrepreneurs. I began wondering about the pressures these young upstarts must inevitably face trying to maintain a viable business while remaining true to their ideals," explains Ms. Dahlberg.

Remaining true to one's ideals can also be said of Ms. Dahlberg. She submitted her manuscript to several agents over a period of four years with no success before signing with Sara Camilli, a well-regarded agent who also represents bestselling authors Eric Jerome Dickey and Zane, in 2002. "It seems like there was a particular formula these agents where looking for vis-à-vis Black Fiction and I guess I didn't fit into it. I just couldn't compromise the story I wanted to tell or how I wanted to portray my characters in order to fit a particular mold. I knew there were readers out there who were looking for the type of story I was trying to tell." Uptown and Down explores the identity dilemmas encountered by three Ivy-educated, on-the-rise Black Americans in their quest for material success and personal fulfillment. Ms. Dahlberg elaborates, "This is a novel about much more than status and wealth. Uptown and Down raises many moral questions about what happens when Blacks are finally offered a seat at the table. The themes of class and materialism, marriage and friendship, ambition and rivalry are universal. I also draw upon some of my experiences as a Haitian-American and on the aspirations of my generation to do some social good with the talents we've been blessed with."

Ms. Dahlberg lived in Stockholm for seven years and both her children were born there. She says that her distance from New York, where her novel is based, allowed her to delve more deeply into her imagination. She also believes that living abroad and having to build a new life for herself without the geographical proximity of her parents and sister gave her a much richer perspective for examining the struggles we go through as individuals. "Life is not always rosy. And really good fiction dares to go to darker places." Ms. Dahlberg returned to the United States with her husband and children in the fall of 2004 and currently lives in Connecticut. "Our move back to the US coincided nicely with the publication of Uptown and Down. I've been able to do author appearances and really connect with my readers through local book clubs and festivals." Ms. Dahlberg has done a number of readings and signings at prestigious venues such as Hue-man Bookstore in Harlem; Just Books, Too in Old Greenwich, CT; the Howard University Bookstore in Washington, D.C. and her alma-mater in conjunction with Columbia College Women. Ms. Dahlberg finds juggling the administrative aspect of Uptown and Down with her desire to start a new book a major challenge. However, she hopes to submit the first draft of her second novel by the end of the year. Ms. Dahlberg is also actively involved in educational outreach programs and has recently been appointed a Board Member of the Greenwich Arts Council. "I think that anything I'm involved with outside of my writing only enhances my creativity. Inspiration can come from anywhere!" says Ms. Dahlberg.

Uptown and Down is available at major book retailers and on-line at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

 

 

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