Last Thursday Book Group – The Happiest Refugee

At the May meeting the group discussed:

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do


The laugh-out-loud, reach-for-your-hanky story of one of Australia’s best-loved comedians. Anh Do nearly didn’t make it to Australia. His entire family came close to losing their lives on the sea as they escaped from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat. But nothing – not murderous pirates, nor the imminent threat of death by hunger, disease or dehydration as they drifted for days – could quench their desire to make a better life in the country they had dreamed about.

Life in Australia was hard, an endless succession of back-breaking work, crowded rooms, ruthless landlords and make-do everything. But there was a loving extended family, and always friends and play and something to laugh about for Anh, his brother Khoa and their sister Tram. Things got harder when their father left home when Anh was only nine – they felt his loss very deeply and their mother struggled to support the family on her own. His mother’s sacrifice was an inspiration to Anh and he worked hard during his teenage years to help her make ends meet, also managing to graduate high school and then university.

Another inspiration was the comedian Anh met when he was about to sign on for a 60-hour a week corporate job. Anh asked how many hours he worked. ‘Four,’ the answer came back, and that was it. He was going to be a comedian! The Happiest Refugee tells the incredible, uplifting and inspiring life story of one of our favourite personalities. Tragedy, humour, heartache and unswerving determination – a big life with big dreams. Anh’s story will move and amuse all who read it.

Groups comments:

What a  positive story, Anh Do always seemed to look on the bright side of life.

Anh appreciated everything his new country gave him and his family.

Anh is also a very forgiving person and looks for the best in everyone, which helps to make his own life happy.

His Father’s quote ‘only 2 times in life, now and too late’ is one we could all adopt.

The book brought back memories of one readers experience of their own migration to Australia.

Anh Do’s family worked very hard in their new country and didn’t expect any hand-outs from the government.

Anh Do is now a very successful comedian and often refers to his Vietnam family and his life story in Australia.