Janelle Monáe announces short story collection based on ‘Dirty Computer’ songs

A synopsis boasts that ‘The Memory Librarian’ will expand “the Afrofuturistic world of [Monáe’s] critically acclaimed album”

Janelle Monáe has announced her inaugural foray into the world of fiction writing, setting a release date for her book The Memory Librarian.

Set to arrive on April 19, 2022, the 400-page effort is due to land almost exactly four years since her third studio album, 2018’s ‘Dirty Computer’.

The Memory Librarian will serve as a collection of short stories expanding on the record’s concept, further exploring “a world in which thoughts – as a means of self-conception – could be controlled or erased by a select few”.


Monáe wrote the book with collaborators Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore and Sheree Renée Thomas. According to its publishers at HarperCollins, Monaé and her team drew inspiration from such legendary sci-fi writers as Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Becky Chambers and Nnedi Okorafor.

The publisher’s synopsis boasts that The Memory Librarian “brings to the written page the Afrofuturistic world of [Monáe’s] 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.”

‘Dirty Computer’ hit shelves on April 27, 2018 via Wondaland/Bad Boy/Atlantic. NME gave the album a five-star review upon release, with Andrew Trendell highlighting the influence Monáe took from her late friend and collaborator Prince.

“She’s got The Purple One’s punk, mad-scientist approach,” he wrote, “but creates a world all of her own. Throwing in rap, soul, pop, R&B, space-rock and whatever the hell she wants with her fearless message, Janelle Monáe doesn’t believe in walls or limits: this is a fluid celebration of freedom, raging and raving against the oppressors. In fact, only one label sticks – icon.”

Though a full-length follow-up to ‘Dirty Computer’ remains elusive, Monáe – who is non-binary – has kept mighty busy in the years following its release. She’s dropped the singles ‘That’s Enough’, ‘Turntables’, ‘Stronger’ and ‘Say Her Name’, and starred in such films as Disney’s 2019 Lady And The Tramp remake, and the horror flick Antebellum.


Next year, she’ll appear alongside Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Kathryn Hahn and more in the as-yet-untitled sequel to Rian Johnson’s whodunnit Knives Out.