Earlier this year, Janelle Monáe’s The Memory Librarian: and Other Stories From Dirty Computer was announced, marking the blazingly talented singer/actor/songwriter’s first foray into prose writing. The book, the announcement explained, “follows a character named Jane 57821, who breaks free of a worldwide system of thought control ruled by a nebulous group that believes it has the power to decide all creatures’ fates.”
One intriguing detail was mentioned, but not explained: that Monáe would be collaborating with other writers. Now, we know who at least some of those writers are: Alaya Dawn Johnson, Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing, Danny Lore, and Sheree Renée Thomas.
A People piece on the book says Monáe’s collaborators “include” these writers, so it’s not clear if there are others, too. But this list is mighty impressive on its own. Johnson’s latest novel, Trouble the Saints, just won the World Fantasy Award. Delgado’s fiction and nonfiction work has been published in The Paris Review, The New York Times Magazine, Apex, The Believer, and more. Ewing is a sociologist, poet, writer, artist, and educator, whose work also includes the reintroduction of Riri Williams in Marvel’s Ironheart. Lore is a writer and editor who picked up Marvel’s Champions after Ewing finished a run on the series. And Thomas is the author of Nine Bar Blues, editor of Dark Matter, and editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
In short, this is a stacked lineup for what sounds like an amazing book. The official summary explains:
In The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, singer-songwriter, actor, fashion icon, futurist, and worldwide superstar Janelle Monáe brings to the written page the Afrofuturistic world of her critically acclaimed album, exploring how different threads of liberation—queerness, race, gender plurality, and love—become tangled with future possibilities of memory and time in such a totalitarian landscape … and what the costs might be when trying to unravel and weave them into freedoms.
The book’s concept is in keeping with so much of Monáe’s work, going back to her 2007 EP Metropolis: The Chase Suite, in which an android named Cindi Mayweather falls in forbidden love with a human. Dirty Computer, the album, was released alongside an “emotion picture” in which Monáe starred as Jane 57821 ; Monáe has said that the android persona of Cindi felt safer for a long time, but with Dirty Computer, “the subject is Janelle Monáe.”
The Memory Librarian will be published by Harper Voyager on April 19, 2022.