janelle monae

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Singer and actress Janelle Monáe’s Afro-futuristic collection of short stories is about to hit the shelves. 

Titled, The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer, the book is an expansion of the storytelling featured in the performer’s Grammy-nominated 2018 album, Dirty Computer.

As MADAMENOIRE previously shared with our readers, the project is co-written with authors Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, Eve L. Ewing, Yohanca Delgado and Sheree Renee Thomas. 

Throughout the various short stories, protagonists will grapple with embracing aspects of their identity — such as gender plurality, race, queerness and love — while living in a world where their individuality is challenged.

Monáe told NPR that her album Dirty Computer is the inspiration for the text:

 It came to me in a nightmare, actually — a nightmare that I was kidnapped. I went to the movies, I got popcorn, was [sitting down] and everybody was scattering out of the theater. I was like, “I just want to watch a movie.” One of the ushers was trying to tell me to come through a back way so that they could protect me because they’re kidnapping people. I did not listen to the usher, and I was kidnapped. All of my memories were wiped clean. I didn’t know who I was. The only thing that I remembered [was] just showing up as somebody completely different.

And so, I put all of that energy into the album: Why would somebody want to erase who I am? Why would they want to erase all of these folks’ memories? And I put that into, you know, representing a community full of people whose stories are being erased, whose identities are being erased.

When a CBS News host highlighted that sci-fi is often an allegory for real life, the performer contextualized the concept for her book further by mentioning how it relates to it some of the troubling politics happening in Texas.

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“There’s a lot of erasure happening in our very country and I hope this book serves as a warning sign of what that will look like and feel like if we don’t fight against those abuse of powers,” Monáe said. 


The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer becomes available on April 19.

If you’re interested, get information on Monáe’s book tour here.

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