Melville House is an independent publisher located in Brooklyn, New York. It was founded in 2001 by sculptor Valerie Merians and fiction writer/journalist Dennis Johnson, in order to publish Poetry After 9/11, a book of material culled from Johnson’s groundbreaking MobyLives book blog. The material consisted of things sent in to the blog by writers and poets in response to the 9/11 attacks, and Johnson and Merians felt it better represented the spirit of New York than the call to war of the Bush administration.
The book was a surprise hit, featured in the New York Times, on ABC TV, National Public Radio, and other major media outlets, and Johnson and Merians decided to do some more books. Since then, the company has gone on to publish numerous books of fiction and nonfiction. Among its nonfiction has been the bestseller Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber called, “fascinating . . . thought-provoking . . . and exceedingly timely” by the Financial Times; Who Killed Daniel Pearl? by Bernard-Henri Levy, which reported on Pakistan’s trading of nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran, and Libya months before the New York Times and the Washington Post “broke” the story; Collusion, by Carlo Bonini, the reporter who was the primary source for disproving the Bush Administration’s fraudulent “Niger-gate” documents; and Torture Taxi, by Trevor Paglen and A.C. Thompson, the first book on the CIA’s rendition program, which included the first photographs of torture facilities.
Melville House is also well-known for its fiction, with two Nobel Prize winners on its list: Imre Kertesz and Heinrich Boll. In particular, the company has developed a world-wide reputation for its rediscovery of forgotten international writers — its translation of a forgotten work by Hans Fallada, Every Man Dies Alone, launched a world-wide phenomenon. The company also takes pride in its discovery of many first-time writers — such as Lars Iyer (Spurious), Tao Lin (Shoplifting from American Apparel), Jeremy Bushnell (The Weirdness) and Christopher Boucher (How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive) — all of whom have gone on to greater success.