Not only is Dark Emu the most popular book in a Bega bookstore, it has also sold over 70,000 copies.
The book - which argues for a reconsideration of the “hunter-gatherer” tag for pre-colonial Indigenous Australians - was written by Bruce Pascoe, who said it was fantastic to know people were reading it.
“But when I was writing it I was speaking to Australians around the country about the issues and I realised it would be popular as there was a lot of interest in the issues,” the Mallacoota author said.
“The main thing is, Australians are for the first time taking interest in part of Aboriginal history they hadn’t shown much interest in before.
“I think there’s a different need in the country at the moment and I think it shows a need for change in this country.”
Over 70,000 copies of his book have been sold since it was published in 2014, including 500 at Bega bookstore Candelo Books, making it the store’s most popular product from the last 10 years.
There is also an overseas edition as well as upcoming French and German translation editions.
Reviews in the US had been “amazing”, Mr Pascoe said, while in the UK the reception had been “really enthusiastic”.
He said it was good to support local authors, because it was part of the local business structure.
“But how better are you going to find out about your own world other than through the eyes of local writers and musicians?” he said.
He said the Bega Valley was a highly artistic area supported by the local people and he also said the farming community was partly responsible for Dark Emu’s success in the region.
“Farmers know we are up against a deteriorating environment and if we are going to survive we need to look at plants that suit the environment,” he said.
Recently, Mr Pascoe has been working on a children’s edition of Dark Emu and has a novel planned to be released early next year titled Imperial Harvest.
He described it as a “history of violence”, which looked at the inclination of men to resort to violence when making political decisions.
“It’s a pot boiler of a thing,” he said.
“I’ve been working on it working on it for a number of years, but Dark Emu got in the way.”
Also, he has been focusing on growing kangaroo grass and was recently featured in an article by the Sydney Morning Herald discussing a Sydney baker’s quest to use seeds from the plant to make bread.
“Bakers all over our country are driving me crazy looking for seed!” Mr Pascoe said.
“But everything we gather I’m trying to put back into the ground.”