Janelle Monáe Pens Collection of Short Stories Based on 'Afrofuturistic World' of Dirty Computer

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Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae

Randy Shropshire/Getty Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe is entering the world of speculative fiction with her debut collection of stories, The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories from Dirty Computer.

Pulling from the "Afrofuturistic" vision of her hit album Dirty Computer, the short fiction collection features stories by Monáe and an array of "talented female and non-binary writers." The Memory Librarian will be published by Harper Voyager Books on April 19, 2022.

"Sci-fi and Afrofuturism have nurtured my imagination for many moons," Monáe, 36, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement. "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."

"The radical joy of this process has been creating space — creating narratives — within the Dirty Computer world," the eight-time Grammy-nominated singer continues. "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."

The Memory Librarian delves into the world of Dirty Computer where the mind and "self-conception" can be controlled by others, according to the book's press release.

The Memory Librarian by Janelle Monae
The Memory Librarian by Janelle Monae

HarperCollins

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When Monáe dropped Dirty Computer in April 2018, she spoke to CBS This Morning about how her late mentor Prince influenced how she wants to portray her sexuality in music and in the public eye.

"I think that it's important for people to be proud of their identity. I am very proud to be a queer, young Black woman in America. I'm proud of who I am," Monáe said at the time.

"I love myself, and I want for all the dirty computers around the world to feel seen, to be heard, and to feel celebrated and to know that I'm right there with you," she added.

In the collection of stories, Monáe and the other writers build on the album's "Afrofuturistic world" by "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," according to the press release.

The collaborators include Alaya Dawn Johnson, author of Trouble the Saints, Yohanca Delgado, whose writings have appeared in The Paris Review and Nightmare, Eve L. Ewing, an author and a sociologist, Danny Lore, a new writer on Marvel Comics' Champions series, and Sheree Renée Thomas, author of Nine Bar Blues. For them, teaming up with Monáe has been a "dream."

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"Working with Janelle and the Wondaland team was such a source of joy in a difficult year," says Delgado in a statement. "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," the author continues. "I experience that sparkling, innovative energy in so much of Janelle's work, and I hope readers will experience it in this collection, too."

Lore, a queer, Black writer and editor, says they felt "seen" after listening to Monáe's pivotal album.

"When I first heard Dirty Computer, I felt incredibly seen," Lore says in a statement, "and so it is an honor and a joy to work with Janelle to grow her world even further."

The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories from Dirty Computer goes on sale in April 2022.