A Novel by Paul Metcalf

The 50th anniversary edition of Metcalf’s extraordinary novel—with a new introduction by Rick Moody—is a reckoning with Columbus, America, myth, and his great-grandfather Herman Melville.

July 2015
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 | 264 Pages
Trade Paper

ISBN: 978-1-56689-392-3.



This is a 50th anniversary edition with a new introduction by Rick Moody.

First published in 1965, Genoa is Metcalf’s purging of the burden of his relationship to his great-grandfather Herman Melville. In his signature polyphonic style, the life of Melville, Melville’s use and conversion of the Columbus myth, and the story of the Mills brothers—one, an M.D. who refuses to practice, the other an executed murderer—vibrate and sing a quintessentially American song.

Paul Metcalf (1917–1999) was an American writer and the great-grandson of Herman Melville. His three volume Collected Works were published by Coffee House Press in 1996.


Praise for Genoa

Genoa is a spectacular confrontation with Melville’s work, the journals of Columbus and molecular biology—all folded into a hallucinatory narrative about two brothers and their different paths through the American century.”Publishers Weekly

“Genoa invites us to pass our minds down a new but ancient track, to become, ourselves, both fact and fiction, and to discover something true about the geography of time.”—William Gass, New York Times

“A singular novel, blending history and fiction, Metcalf’s book follows two brothers, one of whom narrates, as passages from the journals of Melville and Christopher Columbus are woven into the story. It works! And is best pondered seaside.”Vanity Fair

“Any great book—and yes, Genoa is emphatically great—transcends the tricks in how it was made. It’s hard to explain the unique power of what Metcalf has written; better, perhaps, to simply acknowledge that something powerful is happening. Case in point: I seem to have settled on writing whoa in the margins of many pages.”Electric Literature

“Metcalf’s investigation of the darkness lying at the heart of human existence is bold, unsentimental and unsparing. One of his quotes from Melville tells it all: ‘Bail out your individual boat, if you can, but the sea abides.’”—Lively Arts

“… by cobbling together disparate extracts from a variety of sources, Metcalf has recreated that uniquely readerly revelation of finding in unrelated literature of all kinds resonances and echoes that inform one’s lived experience.”Full Stop

“There isn’t much that one can compare [Genoa] to: in both its form and its incorporation of other works, Anne Carson comes to mind, but in broader strokes rather than more specific ones. . . Genoa is a slippery book, a literary collage that nonetheless advances with a startling momentum.”LitHub

“But Genoa is much more than quotation. It is a work—like most of Metcalf’s later works—that presents startling connections between things.”Jacket Magazine

“Fascinating and engaging.”Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“Much like his great-grandfather, Herman Melville, Paul Metcalf brings an extraordinary diversity of materials into the complex patterns of analogy and metaphor, to affect a common term altogether brilliant in its imagination.”—Robert Creeley

“A unique work of historical and literary imagination, eloquent and powerful. I know of nothing like it.”—Howard Zinn

“Interested in one of the best works by an underread literary experimenter and collagist par excellence? Metcalf’s your man.”—The Believer Logger, “Our Favorite Books from 2015″