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Janelle Monáe Books In Order

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The Memory Librarian (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe established herself as an artist and creator with her award winning talents as an American actress and singer. She’s been nominated eight times for a Grammy, won an MTV Video Music Award and in 2010 the ASCAP Vanguard Award.

She landed squarely in the public gaze as an actress in the 2016 movie Hidden Figures. She played Mary Jackson, one of the three brilliant African American, female mathematicians at NASA. As an actress she has performed in over twenty movies in the past two decades.

Now she has turned her considerable creative talents to writing. She has written an anthology of stories where she presents them together in The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer. The five stories are written in collaboration with five other authors. Her stories are surprising to most- she is heavy into the science fiction genre and these stories display her longtime fondness and authority of the subject.

Described by the New York Times as her “Queer, Afrofuturist Literary Debut”, Ms. Monáe has written five views into a futuristic, authoritarian world. In this world social deviants are relentlessly persecuted and hunted down. The “deviants” are mostly comprised of women who are poor, queer, and Black.

The sanctioned hunters, called New Dawn, has a widely spread out surveillance operation. Armed with advanced technology that reeks of dystopian dysfunction, their drones and emotion trackers have the ability edit memories of their captives. The New Dawn group focuses on accessing “dirty computers” for “cleaning”. It’s their eugenic euphemism for the erasure of distasteful past and present behaviors.

In the story New Dawn the reader is left to decide if the hunting organization is from the government. Or is it a company or is it a strident religious group? We the readers are also left to put ourselves in the shoes of others.

Are people this group consider “clean” OK with the hunt for “dirty” people and computers? Are they even aware of the pogroms going on around them? Who benefits from the mind wipes New Dawn is aggressively committing? And the most puzzling: why does New Dawn go to the effort to hunt and reform the “dirty” people? They could just kill them and completely remove the problem.

Ms. Monáe was raised in Kansas City, Kansas in a very devout Baptist massively sized family. The family being large and close- she has said she has fifty first cousins- aren’t necessarily informed or aware of the details of her personal life.

She hasn’t been open about her sexual preferences until more recently. And with her acting and singing career she doesn’t have the time to keep her “big-ass family” up to date on her love life.

She does have family that say “All gay people are going to hell.” Years ago she started questioning her family’s Baptist faith and the Bible. She now says “I serve the God of love.”

Janelle Monáe Robinson was born to a janitor mom and her dad was in the midst of a twenty-one year battle with an addiction to crack. Before she turned one year old her parents separated. Her mother later remarried to the father of her half-sister, Kimmy.

The working-class community Ms. Monáe was raised in was established over one hundred years ago as a settlement by Native Americans and abolitionists prior to the Civil War and named it Quindaro.

Black Americans escaping slavery via the underground railroad found refuge there. There’s a statue of the renowned abolitionist John Brown in the neighborhood. Unfortunately it’s the frequent target of bigoted vandalism.

Like a large number of minority and disenfranchised Americans, the election in 2016 triggered unfamiliar emotions. Ms. Monáe felt scared and very unsure of the future. She had been performing in a country where her music was loved and appreciated by Americans all the way to the White House.

Overnight Ms. Monáe felt scared; she had been living in a country where the president loved her music and asked her to perform at the White Houses. Now she felt threatened that her right to exist as a queer woman of color was in jeopardy. She wasn’t sure if people were going to think they had the right to kill her and remove her color and queer choices from the country.

Ms. Monáe’s anthology, The Memory Librarian, brings these fears and the surrounding aggressions to the pages for all to read. She has made the leap from the music staff to the written page, sharing the fears and triumphs she sung about to allowing others to read about it.

Queerness, race, and gender are tangled together and in a totalitarian landscape with the process of untangling them bringing risks to those affected. Those of us who don’t identify as such may not be aware of the risks and the fear they feel.

These five stories investigate what it possibly feels like to live in an aggressive, hostile totalitarian environment. It explores the kind of control that can be created by those who have decided they have the right to dictate the life and thinking of people who aren’t approved by the larger society.

and how a group of disenfranchised people and can be mortally threatened.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Janelle Monáe

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