Photo of Janelle Monae and book cover of The Memory Librarian

American Writers Museum to Host Janelle Monáe for Only Book Tour Stop in the Midwest at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance

As part of its fifth year anniversary celebration, the American Writers Museum (AWM) will host Janelle Monáe, artist, rapper, singer, and actor, for a discussion about her debut book The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer on Friday, April 22. This event will take place at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Street, at 7pm. Monáe will be joined by collaborating writer Sheree Renée Thomas, and moderator Theaster Gates. Tickets are now on sale for the general public and can be purchased at HarrisTheaterChicago.org or by calling the Box Office at 312.334.7777. All tickets come with a copy of The Memory Librarian. A limited number of signed copies will be available to purchase at an additional cost. Masks and proof of vaccination are required. Press images are available to download here.

“We’re thrilled to bring Janelle Monáe here to Chicago for this special evening, and to continue to have our programming and exhibits represent the breadth of the American voice,” said AWM President Carey Cranston.

This event is presented in conjunction with the AWM’s forthcoming exhibit and education initiative Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice. Opening in June 2022, the exhibit will explore racial injustice in America through the work of Black American writers from the end of the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement. The power and impact of these writers will be celebrated and many of the themes and issues they were writing about will be explored in related programming including Monáe’s event and the free American Writers Festival, featuring more than 70 writers at the Chicago Cultural Center and the AWM on May 15.

From groundbreaking musician, actor, fashion icon and futurist Janelle Monáe and an outstanding group of collaborators comes The Memory Librarian, a collection of short fiction, bringing to the written page the rebellious and Afrofuturistic world of Monáe’s critically acclaimed album Dirty Computer.

“In this moving, triumphant collection, singer Monáe returns to the dystopian world of her Dirty Computer concept album and short film. Though a special treat for Dirty Computer fans, readers won’t need to be familiar with the album to marvel at the big ideas, riveting action, and hopeful message here. This is a knockout.” –Publishers Weekly, *starred review

“Blistering, hopeful, and richly written…All readers will finish the book craving more of these extremely queer, bold stories that battle gatekeeping and erasure, digging into both the worst potential of a surveillance state and the gritty glimmer of the rebellion that can defeat it.” —Booklist, *starred review

Janelle Monáe, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, Eve L. Ewing, Yohanca Delgado, and Sheree Renée Thomas have delivered a sexy, soulful, and dissident collection of tales that expands the bold vision of Dirty Computer—in which Monáe introduced us to a world where people’s memories—a key to self-expression and self-understanding—could be controlled or erased by an increasingly powerful few. And whether human, A.I., or something in-between, citizen’s lives and sentience were dictated by those of the New Dawn, who’d convinced themselves they had the right to decide fate—that was, until Jane 57821 remembered and broke free.

Grown from the soil of that mythos, the stories in The Memory Librarian explore the lives of those living in the heart and at the edges of a growing surveillance-hungry, totalitarian order—striving to see and hold on to their “dirtiness” without being tracked down and cleaned. Perfect for fans of Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Becky Chambers, and Nnedi Okorafor, The Memory Librarian is a story collection filled with the artistic innovation and brave themes that have made Janelle Monáe a global influence; an anthology that sees our battles about gender identity, political violence, and sexuality as matters of space, time, love, and, of course, the power of memory.


About American Writers Museum

The American Writers Museum is the first museum of its kind in the United States. The mission of the American Writers Museum is to engage the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, and our daily lives. The museum is located at 180 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60601, and offers something for every age group including permanent exhibits and special galleries highlighting America’s favorite works and the authors behind them. Tickets to the museum are $14 for adults, $9 for seniors, students, and teachers. Free for members and children ages 12 and under. To inquire about discounted rates for groups of 10 or more, including adults, student travel groups, and University students, visit AmericanWritersMuseum.org/visit/groups/ or call 312-374-8770. Museum hours are Thursday – Monday 10 AM – 5 PM. For more information visit AmericanWritersMuseum.org or call 312-374-8790.

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