‘Dark Emu injects a profound authenticity into the conversation about how we Australians understand our continent ... [It is] essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what Australia once was, or what it might yet be if we heed the lessons of long and sophisticated human occupation.’ Judges for 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards
Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating, and storing — behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag. Gerritsen and Gammage in their latest books support this premise but Pascoe takes this further and challenges the hunter-gatherer tag as a convenient lie. Almost all the evidence in Dark Emu comes from the records and diaries of the Australian explorers, impeccable sources.
Bruce’s comments on his book compared to Gammage’s: “ My book is about food production, housing construction and clothing, whereas Gammage was interested in the appearance of the country at contact. [Gammage] doesn’t contest hunter gatherer labels either, whereas that is at the centre of my argument.”
Winner – Book of the Year in the 2016 NSW Premier's Literary Awards
Winner – Indigenous Writer's Prize in the 2016 NSW Premier's Literary Awards
Shortlisted – History Book Award in the 2014 Queensland Literary Awards
Shortlisted – 2014 Victorian Premier's Award for Indigenous Writing
Bruce Pascoe is a Bunurong man born in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond. He is a member of the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative of southern Victoria and has been the director of the Australian Studies Project for the Commonwealth Schools Commission. Bruce has had a varied career as a teacher, farmer, fisherman, barman, fencing contractor, lecturer, Aboriginal language researcher, archaeological site worker and editor.
Books include the short story collections Night Animals and Nightjar; the novels Fox, Ruby Eyed Coucal, Ribcage, Shark, Earth, and Ocean; historical works Cape Otway: Coast of secrets and Convincing Ground; the childrens book Foxies in a Firehose and the young adult fiction Fog a Dox, which won the Prime Ministers Literary Award for YA Fiction, 2013.