A novel by Paul Metcalf

July 14, 2015 • 5.5 x 8.25 • 264 Pages • 978-1-56689-392-3

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.

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.

About the Author

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.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


“Metcalf’s masterpiece undermines the idea of authorship while showing a way forward for the novel.” —Stephen Sparks, The Scofield

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“Fascinating and engaging.” Vol. 1 Brooklyn