Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The happiest refugee - a book

I just finished reading a very inspiring book called - The happiest refugee - written by Anh Do, a well known comedian in Australia. 

The book is about Anh´s life story from the moment when at the age of 2 he stepped aboard a wooden boat -  9mt long by 2,5mt wide - carrying 40 people to flee Vietnam after the war.
On their 5 day trip, they were twice raided by pirates who stole their food, jewellery and boat engines. They were eventually rescued by a merchant German ship who delivered them to a Malaysian refugee camp.
In 1980 his family was taken in by Australia under the Refugee plan.
His Dad thinking that they were going to Austria, had previously been collecting warm clothes and blankets at the refugee camp, and they were quite surprised with the 30ºC heat when landing in Sydney.

He always had a survival spirit in him, and at the age of 14 he started breeding tropical fish to sell and help his family. Later he had great success selling American-Indian artifacts at craft markets.
Wanting to earn a lot of money to help his mother, brother and sister (his Dad had in the meantime left them), he studied for a Law degree, and at the same time studied for an Arts degree.
When offered a job in a law firm which required a 65 hour a week working schedule, he decided to do stand-up comedy for a few hours a week instead, as he never really liked the competitive nature of the people who practiced law. So he had to work very hard and do a lot of gigs, to earn the sort of money he needed to buy his Mom the house he promised to buy her.
In conjunction with his brother Khoa Do, who is a film director and professional speaker, he has starred in some of his movies, was named Comedian of the year in 1999, has taken part in various TV comedy shows, came in second place on "Dancing with the Stars" and does a lot of motivational speaking engagements.

The book touches on everything:  from war, pirates, courage, language difficulties, racism, alcoholism, divorce, comedy, tragedy, hope and love. One minute it makes you laugh, the next minute you have tears in your eyes. The funniest part of the book for me was at his engagement party, when his whole family show up at his fiancee´s house, who lived in a very rich Sydney suburb. His Mother and uncles are carrying the traditional Vietnamese barbecued pig, but when they see the size of the house, his Mother panics and wants to go and buy an even bigger pig, as the metre long pig is surely not big enough to impress the future in-laws.
She feared that the bride´s parents would think that Ahn and his family weren´t rich enough to take care of their daughter in the manner she was accustomed to.
Another funny moment is when they have to slice up the pig and the Vietnamese women cannot find a meat cleaver in the kitchen cupboards. Having tried various knifes unsuccessfully, they look for a heavy object to force the knife through and settle on a frozen chicken for that.

Their dad´s motto was "There´s now and there´s too late" and that´s how Ahn has lived his life.
Have you read a book that has inspired you?

Footnote: Anh´s brother Khoa was named "Young Australian of the year" in 2005 for his leadership, compassion and will to inspire Australians on issues that affect the community. He is very involved with under-privileged youngsters, especially in the Vietnamese community in Sydney.


  1. Sami,
    It is a very nice story, being real is much nicer.
    What I really enjoyed to read, was the final part where is written: His brother is very involved with under-privileged youngsters. Well done.
    Thanks to share the your reading with us. Kiss

  2. Sami,
    As I have already written two novels and have more two at my desk to finish, you can translate one and send it to Mr.?...
    or, at least, send a letter to him asking if he want to do a film with the story. "Black Mother" is something special, even "The Sin" is have a lovely story.
    Thanks, hope you can think about it. Kisses

  3. Will use my blogger muscle to try and get you a publishing contract!!


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