The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do


(Image from Goodreads)

Australians probably know Anh Do as a comedian and/or the star of the movie Footy Legends. What they probably don’t know is how Anh got to be one of Australia’s truly funny blokes.

Anh and his family are from Vietnam and survived a harrowing boat journey (multiple raids by pirates, dehydration, loss of life) to get to Australia (via a refugee camp in Malaysia). Anh was only two at the time, but the story of the trip is edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff. When they finally made it to Australia, the Do family were so thankful for everything (they were given jeans- a sign of wealth in Vietnam) that when Anh’s little brother, Khoa, was mistaken for a girl and given a dress to wear, the family accepted it with pleasure. (From the photos, Khoa made a very cute little girl). It’s that thankfulness to the country that took them in that continues on as a feature of the story as well as the sense of family. Anh’s family often have extended family or friends come to stay with them as they get on their feet, despite the family working exceptionally hard on their sewing business. They were never too busy to help someone out, despite being poor themselves (Anh had to pretend he had lost or forgotten his schoolbooks- he simply couldn’t afford to buy them at all).

Anh’s story reminds us we need to be thankful for what he have- he is so kind, buying his mother a house or working to afford braces for his sister, who was ashamed about her smile. With the current media headlines about ‘boat people’, we need to remember that they have thoughts, feelings and can be a great asset to this country, like Anh and his family.

A great, funny, emotional memoir. Well done Anh.

9 out of 10.

3 thoughts on “The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do

Add yours

  1. I’ve read this and like you enjoyed it. It certainly makes you look at some things differently. I enjoyed your review.

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