Janelle Monáe pens The Memory Librarian with collaborators

The Memory Librarian by Janelle Monae. Image courtesy HarperCollins Publishers
The Memory Librarian by Janelle Monae. Image courtesy HarperCollins Publishers /

This spring 2022, readers of science fiction and Afrofuturism and fans of the “visually stunning” Dirty Computer album and motion pictures are in for a real treat as singer, actor, and award-winning artist Janelle Monáe’s The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer is poised to hit bookshelves on April 19, 2022, by Harper Voyager Books. As a long-time fan of Janelle Monáe and her music, I am so excited to see her foray into books.

Dirty Computer is a masterpiece, up there with other compelling film shorts from creators like Michael Jackson and Beyoncé. On the project, Monáe expressed the following, “Sci-fi and Afrofuturism have nurtured my imagination for many moons. It’s an honor to be working in these genres to create stories that I hope make all the dirty computers around the world feel seen.” But it’s the expansion of Black sci-fi that has me so excited for this collection of stories. Monáe has always made it clear that she loves to experiment in the ways that she tells stories and what better way to do that than to collaborate with amazing female and non-binary writers of color?

The multi-hyphenate creator took to Instagram to reveal the stunning cover of The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer and announced that she would be collaborating with the following talented writers Alaya Dawn Johnson, Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing, Danny Lore, and Sheree Renée Thomas.

The Memory Librarian by Janelle Monae. Image courtesy HarperCollins Publishers
The Memory Librarian by Janelle Monae. Image courtesy HarperCollins Publishers /

According to the publisher, the book is set against a totalitarian backdrop and will explore different threads of liberation—queerness, race, gender plurality, and love—and how they become tangled when we try to unravel and weave them into freedoms.

National Book Award longlist Alaya Dawn Johnson is collaborating on the lead novella, “The Memory Librarian.” Sociologist and multi-genre author Eve L. Ewing is collaborating on the first of two short stories titled “Timebox,” while Sheree Renée Thomas, author, and editor of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, is collaborating on the second “Timebox” story. Stegner Fellow and author Yohanca Delgado are collaborating on the novella “Save Changes?” And, finally, multi-genre author Danny Lore is collaborating on the novella, “Nevermind.”

“The radical joy of this process has been creating space–creating narratives–within the Dirty Computer world, And to then have the opportunity to invite these talented writers into those narratives and swim in creative waters together–letting our ideas push each other even further–made it even more special,” said Monáe.

The writers were equally filled with joy and stunned by the opportunity to work with Janelle Monae.  They each took time to share what the opportunity to collaborate on a project with Monae meant to them.

The collaborators shared the following:

"“I have been an admirer of Janelle Monáe’s art and afro-futurist vision since The Chase Suite EP first dropped in 2007. It sounds like a cliché, but it has been a dream come true to be able to work with Janelle on this project, diving into this dystopian world a blink away from our own,” said Alaya Dawn Johnson.“Working with Janelle and the Wondaland team was such a source of joy in a difficult year. Collaborating with creators that are multi-faceted and insistently expansive in their artistic vision reminded me that imagination really is the most vital form of resistance. It’s hard to feel hopeless when you’re busy imagining all the different ways in which the world could be transformed. I experience that sparkling, innovative energy in so much of Janelle’s work, and I hope readers will experience it in this collection, too,” said Yohanca Delgado.“Janelle Monáe is one of my most important influences as an Afrofuturist writer, so collaborating with her on this project is literally a dream come true. We’ve pulled together a story that I think is classic sci-fi, and I hope folks will find it to be a conversation starter for a long time to come, “ said collaborator Eve. L Ewing.“As a fan of Janelle Monáe’s joyful, life-affirming music and extraordinary vision, I’m thrilled to collaborate on such a powerful project. It’s an honor to help expand the DIRTY COMPUTER world through this shared storytelling and art,” said Sheree Renée Thomas.“When I first heard DIRTY COMPUTER, I felt incredibly seen, and so it is an honor and a joy to work with Janelle to grow her world even further,” said Danny Lore."

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The book is available for pre-order and will be released on April 19, 2022.