The Conversation February 8, 2023 by Julienne van Loon, Bronwyn Coate, Millicent Weber

Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, first published in 2014, represents that rare bird in small press and independent publishing in Australia: a long-term sales success.

Dark Emu attempts to debunk the idea that pre-European Aboriginal people were purely “hunter-gatherers”.

Indeed, it suited settler-colonists, Pascoe argues, to fail to recognise Indigenous agricultural practices as organised, intelligent land management. In the original publisher’s press release, Pascoe described it as a book “about food production, housing construction and clothing”…

…The publication of Dark Emu had a significant impact on its small not-for-profit publisher, Magabala Books. Founded in 1984, Magabala is Aboriginal owned and led, and focuses on celebrating and nurturing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices.

After Dark Emu was published, Magabala expanded its publishing program.

Magabala was shortlisted for Small Publisher of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards in 2017 and 2019. That second year, it was also the fastest-growing independent small publisher in Australia.

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