DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Books

The Memory Librarian by Janelle Monáe: A clarion call for disenfranchised people

From Janelle Monáe, terrifically-built worlds lead readers to ask: What would you do with more time?

Janelle Monae

Janelle Monáe performs at Boston Calling. Image: Adam Salsman/Flickr

The Memory Librarian is out now (Harper Voyager)

Time travel plays a big part in The Memory Librarian by musician and all-round force of nature Janelle Monáe.

This collection of five stories is co-written by Monáe with a fine selection of female or non-binary writers of colour, and is an expansion of the speculative world created in her 2018 Dirty Computer album and the accompanying ‘emotion picture’. In a dystopian future, New Dawn control the population and monitor everyone’s thoughts and actions.

Difference is viewed as a crime, and those deemed to be different are ‘dirty computers’, cleansed of their memories via drugs. But amid this authoritarian rule there are pockets of resistance – young, marginalised people fighting to be individuals in a world set against them. 

The world-building across these tales is terrific and evocative, and the ability to manipulate time threads through three of them. What would you do with more time? What could you change in the past or create in the future? These stories are a clarion call for the disenfranchised of today’s world, and provide an optimistic view of a better way to live going forward. Stirring stuff. 

Doug Johnstone is a journalist and author

You can buy The Memory Librarian from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member.You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'The threat to our rights': Women share what keeps them awake at night in honour of Ulysses' Molly Bloom
Illustration by Chris Bentham
Books

'The threat to our rights': Women share what keeps them awake at night in honour of Ulysses' Molly Bloom

Top 5 children's books for summer
Books

Top 5 children's books for summer

'Future is as shaky as its ever been': Will Baillie Gifford funding row kill our book festivals?
Books

'Future is as shaky as its ever been': Will Baillie Gifford funding row kill our book festivals?

How books can help children understand the crushing challenges of poverty
Books

How books can help children understand the crushing challenges of poverty

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know