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 then-recently-appointed 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 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 — and for its discovery of many first-time writers, such as Tao Lin (Eeeee Eee Eeee), Lars Iyer (Spurious), and Christopher Boucher (How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive). In fact, to celebrate its tenth anniversary, Melville House decided to make its 200th book a work of first fiction: Leigh Stein’s The Fallback Plan.
MobyLives was one of the world’s first and most well-known book blogs, founded by Dennis Johnson in 2000 and based upon his syndicated newspaper column about books (the original MobyLives).