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Review of Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee

Steven Tannason

Tue Dec 13 2011


The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do, published by Allen & Unwin

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do, published by Allen & Unwin

I WAS never a fan of biographies and memoirs. However, as I began reading Anh Do’s bestselling memoir, The Happiest Refugee, little did I know that my conviction was about to be changed forever.

Renowned comedian Anh Do’s debut book was published last year and, earlier this year, took out the Australian Book Industry’s Book of the Year Award.

It is a heartwarming and touching story that leads readers through Do’s days as a small child in Vietnam to his successes as a prominent comedian and television personality in Australia.

Do is one of Australia’s leading comedians and has appeared on popular television programs such as Thank God You’re Here, The Footy Show and Dancing with the Stars. He is also a sought-after inspirational speaker. His success story, as he records in his memoir, is an extraordinary one.

The Happiest Refugee explores Do’s family’s journey to Australia from war-torn Vietnam and the problems they encountered en route. Forced to flee after the end of the war due to the family’s allegiances to American and Australian troops, they embark on a journey to seek a better life.

The memoir goes on to describe the family’s life in Australia­ – Do’s childhood in Western Sydney, his efforts to gain some extra money to support his family, and the moment his father left his family.


The Happiest Refugee is full of moving snapshots of how Do and his family overcome the challenges that come their way. It is an inspiring tale of the power of perseverance, kindness and love.

Besides Do himself, the most significant character in the book is Do’s mother, from whom he learns plenty of valuable life lessons. His father features less – absent from Do’s life for his teenage years – however all the major characters Do introduces in his memoir do in a sense stand for their own positive values.

Unsurprisingly, the book has won numerous awards. In addition to winning The Book Industry Book of the Year, The Happiest Refugee also picked up the 2011 Indie Book of the Year Award and the 2011 Dymocks Book of the Year Award.

The Happiest Refugee is a fresh and pleasing addition to Australian literature. It is guaranteed to leave you inspired by the highs and emphasising with the lows. A must read for all.