By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
The Happiest Refugee
By Anh Do (Allen & Unwin, $32.99, softcover, 232 pages)
The title might be ironic, but one of Australia’s leading comedians Anh Do has lived through the heartache - and written an inspirational memoir.
It tells of one Vietnamese family’s terrifying boat journey, the turbulent family history, traumatised adolosence, impoverished teenage years, a partly boisterous account of an unconventional career and, against all odds, a happy life.
As Anh’s family escaped war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat, they almost lost their lives on the high seas, but nothing including frightening pirates, disease or dehydration as they drifted for days or imminent threat of death through hunger
extinguish their desire to make a better life in the country of their dreams.
He also documents how the promise of a new life in Australia turned bitter when his father Tam abandoned his mother, Hien, who couldn’t read or speak English and their three children. They felt his loss very deeply and their mother struggled to support the family on her own. At the time Anh was 13 and some incidents of survival will touch your heart.
Even though life was a seemingly never-ending succession of arduous work, merciless landlords and ‘make-do’ situations, he had a loving extended family (including brother Khoa and sister Tram), many friends and something to laugh about.
His mother’s sacrifice was an inspiration to Anh, who worked hard to help her make ends meet and also managed to graduate high school and then university.
This is an incredible true story of motivation and driving ambition complete with sorrow, tragedy, humour and an unwavering determination for a better life.
Being able to do comedy not only won him many friends, but opened up a world where he has also acted in television series and films, written screenplays and is a sought-after keynote speaker.
The Happiest Refugee is Anh laughing through adversity.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.