Book Club / Culture

Janelle Monáe has released a new book about the insidious nature of technology

janelle monáe book

In a new fiction book, Janelle Monáe is bringing to life the Aforfuteristic world of their album Dirty Computer. Titled The Memory Libratian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, it is the singer-songwriter’s first foray into literature and concerns the insidious rise of technology and its encroachment on lives.

What is the plot of the Janelle Monáe book?

The Memory Libratian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer is a collection of dystopic sci-fi stories set against the backdrop of titalitaion society New Dawn. The book expands on themes of identity and social justice, much like Monáe’s 2018 album Dirty Computer which afforded them two Grammy nominations. Citizens of New Dawn exist in a hypervigilant, technocratic state whereby memories, dreams and individuality are regulated by the government, a distinctly Orwellian theme. Those refusing to conform are regarded as flawed, dirty computers needing to be cleansed.

Technology is employed as a tool to reinforce uniformity and limit individuality, creating a more secure humanity or, as stated in the book, “an all-seeing people.” Citizens’ memories are diverted through memory recollection boxes and converted into currency, while surveillance drones roam the streets.

"We already believed in an infinite web, so why not hardwire an eye to each of its strands? A camera on your home. A camera on a phone. A camera on a badge. A camera on a drone. And so on,” writes Monáe.

While gender nonconformity and queer sexuality are considered “deviant behaviours” in the New Dawn, the importance of protecting the LGBTQIA+ community is discussed in the book by Monae, who identifies as pansexual and nonbinary. An array of characters are queer or nonbinary, including protagonist Seshet who becomes involved with a trans woman, Alethia.

When can we purchase Monae’s book in Australia?

The Memory Libratian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer is now available for purchase in Australia through all good retailers.

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