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The Happiest Refugee: A Memoir

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4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  6,209 Ratings  ·  645 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Allen & Unwin (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Brendon Schrodinger
Anh is pretty famous in Australia, He is an anecdotal comedian that is widely popular and well-respected. 'The Happiest Refugee" is his autobiography and could be seen as the stitching together of, elaboration and placing in chronological order of many of his stories.

Anh was born in South Vietnam in the 1970's and so his parents were caught up in the final stages of the civil war. The boo starts with their escape from Vietnam by boat with the aim of reaching Malaysia. This was a very risky escap
...more
Matt
Nov 08, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing
Out of five stars, I rate this book SIX out of five.

This is one of the most uplifting memorable true stories I have ever read. Easy to read, difficult to put down.

A potentially life changing read.

Some of my favourite quotes are: (May contain spoilers)


"Khoa, the baby dangled over the side of the boat by pirates, the toodler that Mum dressed in little girls' dresses, the fat kid that thought the homeless woman was going to eat him... had just won young Australian of the year."
Marj
Mar 08, 2012 Marj rated it really liked it
I must be the only person in Australia who is not familiar with Anh Do, which a few visits to YouTube will no doubt fix...nevertheless his memoir was both tragic and funny, humble and most of all uplifting. For any reader who has encountered refugees before, many parts of his story will sound familiar: the harrowing sea voyage, his encounter with racist attitudes in Australia and the family credo to succeed. But pervading it all is Anh's luminescent smile, his family's 'can do' attitude, helped ...more
Rusalka
I read this a while ago. Nearly a month ago. I was so grumpy at my country and it's petty politics when it comes to people coming to us seeking asylum, I couldn't write a review for a while. And then in the last 6 days, my country has completely lost the fucking plot. The two major parties are trying to complete to be the cruelest to the relatively small number of people who come to Australia each year (it's small as it's a hard place to get to. We limit the numbers of refugees already just by ...more
Laura
Oct 11, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
I'd wanted to read this memoir for AGES but I kept putting it off due to the price and well...book space..lol..THEN I got a kindle and forgot the books until last month where I saw Anh's named mentioned and it jogged my memory about wanting to read all about his life!

I had a few laugh out loud moments while reading and enjoying this memoir..It's writen in a style that is pretty basic but very easy to pick up and enjoy while he making fun of his life from a little one to who he is today.

His famil
...more
Tiffany Vaughan
Dec 12, 2012 Tiffany Vaughan rated it it was amazing
Possibly the most exceptional memoir I've ever experienced. I struggled to put it down and ached with joy when I picked it back up. I wanted to keep turning the pages forever. And yes, word on the street has it that it's truly life-changing.

As I fervently turned each page, Anh had me both laughing and crying. Not just mere chuckles here and there, but more like a deluge of roaringly deep belly laughs. The way he tells a story is just magical. Anh Do is a born storyteller. His nostalgia is infec
...more
Brenda
Aug 15, 2012 Brenda rated it really liked it
Anh Do and his family escaped war-torn Vietnam in a rickety boat, one that had far too many people on it, and the journey was extremely dangerous. Anh’s Dad was the pilot of the boat, and he was determined to see all his passengers safe and sound on the shores of Australia.

As refugees in Australia, life was an extreme and constant struggle. But they were determined to survive, and Ahn’s parents worked hard to provide a secure lifestyle for them all. From working late into the night sewing, seve
...more
Angela
Jul 31, 2015 Angela rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
This was a nice, pleasant read. The Happiest Refugee details Anh Do's journey from a poverty-stricken child in Vietnam to a man considered one of Australia's friendliest comedians. The main players in this book are his family who are integral in his escape from a third-world situation to abundancy on Australian shores. Anh's mother was always a hard working and fierce heroine, his father, plagued by early memories, was tormented for many years and figuratively spilled ink into the relationship ...more
Jeanette
Sep 12, 2013 Jeanette rated it it was amazing
This autobiography of Australian Comedian and Actor Anh Do is a pleasure to read. It is funny, touching and inspiring. Anh relates how his family escaped from post-war Vietnam in a boat and were welcomed into Australia as refugees. He relates his own story and that of his extended family with great humour and warmth. The Happiest Refugee puts a face on those seeking safety and a new life on Australian shores - I only hope it helps Australians to re-find the generosity and spirit of welcome ...more
Zohal
Loved this! So inspirational! So funny! Extremely moving! :) :D
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Jul 04, 2012 Shelleyrae at Book'd Out rated it really liked it
“There are only two times. Now and too late.”

With humour, warmth and spirit, Anh Do shares his journey from a refugee boat fleeing Vietnam to a successful and well known comedian in Australia. The Happiest Refugee won multiple Australian book awards in 2011 and captured the heart of the nation.

When Anh was a small child, his family gambled everything in their desire to escape the crippling poverty in Vietnam on a barely seaworthy boat crowded with 40 others. Twice attacked by pirates and on the
...more
Cathy Atkinson
Oct 07, 2012 Cathy Atkinson rated it really liked it
Inspirational, funny, honest. Told in a matter-of-fact way. Australians who are 2nd, 3rd generation Aussies and older need to take a good look at the way they view the refugee question. An accident of birth does not give us the right to be so mean-spirited. We take this way of life, this freedom, for granted: by the same token, we need to be vigilant to ensure that these freedoms are not eroded.
Anh Do tells a great story in a self-effacing style you would expect if you have enjoyed his stand-up
...more
Lien To
Oct 12, 2016 Lien To rated it it was amazing
Such an inspiring story that leaves you thinking, believing and knowing that anything is possible when you put your mind and soul into it. I don't say this enough but I truly am so grateful and blessed to be where I am today.
Sam
Dec 29, 2014 Sam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I am so glad I finally got to read this because it was a wonderful book, I enjoyed every bit of it! I don't normally read biographies, I've read the popular ones "Marley & Me" and "Mao's Last Dancer" and I really enjoyed those as well.

Throughout reading I kept thinking to myself how positive Anh and his family are after all their continued bad luck. I think anyone who thinks there life is tough should read this and see that things may not be so bad and you must always look on the bright side
...more
Narrelle
Jul 02, 2011 Narrelle rated it it was amazing
Anh Do always comes across as a chirpy, friendly, funny decent bloke with a very big, very soft heart. You finish The Happiest Refugee with that impression firmly rooted in your mind, along with the wonderful story of the life and family that helped to shape him.

The Happiest Refugee is written as a series of anecdotes, but each separate story is woven as part of a whole to show his life. Do's style is breezy, fun and accessible, and the stories are funny and, on occasion, very moving.

I read the
...more
Imogen
Jan 23, 2011 Imogen rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this book! The whole time I was reading it, I felt happy. Even when something bad went wrong, it always, ALWAYS worked out for the best! I love the relationship Anh has with his brother and sister, and especially with his mother. His mother sounds like an absolutely amazing woman and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her experiences.

I really enjoyed the stories that Anh provided about his parents in the opening part of the book. How they met, and eventually married, and how
...more
Simone Ramone
Nov 17, 2012 Simone Ramone rated it it was ok
Shelves: bios, australian

I found this book very disappointing.
I never really felt that I was privvy to Ahn's real feelings about anything that he found problematic.
He seemed to place the same importance on his mother's dog going missing for a day as he did on attending a private school in a home made uniform.
He almost opened up at one stage but the sincerity vanished as quickly as it arrived.

I really liked his positive, grateful attitude towards becoming Australian, and as much as I admire that, I still felt quite short
...more
Melissa
May 27, 2016 Melissa rated it it was amazing
I have love Anh Do as a comedian since watching him in "Thank God You're Here" and this book has been sitting on my shelf for a while.

This book tells Anh's story from leaving Vietnam as a 2 year old with his family on a small fishing boat, to growing up in Sydney and life as a comedian. It's written in lots of short snippets of life, making it an easy book to read when you have short bursts of time to read it. He shares stories and lessons learned in a fun and easy to read way. It was a great wa
...more
Mary
Mar 27, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This book was amazing.

I wasn't at all sure I was interested in reading it, but I picked it up while bored with another book I was reading, and it had me hooked from the first page. The autobiographical story format moves along really quickly, and I read it from cover to cover in a single day.

It had me laughing (as you would expect in a book by a leading comedian) and crying (frequently). It is also inspirational, making you feel as though you should make the most out of every opportunity you g
...more
Karen ⊰✿
Jan 26, 2013 Karen ⊰✿ rated it really liked it
I have always enjoyed Anh Do's comedy, and this book is full of it, but more importantly explores what it is like to be a refugee in Australia. There is so much vitriol in our media about "boat people" that this book gives a human side to that story. Hopefully it can take something away from all that fear-mongering and show us "lucky ones" the necessity of providing asylum to those human beings who need it.
Anh Do tells this story in a very funny, touching, way and this book is in no way politica
...more
Dee-Ann
Nov 30, 2010 Dee-Ann rated it it was amazing
Very easy to read and I particularly enjoyed the stories from his youth. Towards the end it was starting to sound a bit too easy, a bit like a standing ovation, but it is inspiring to see what you can become if you put your mind to it, and that you can survive the bumpy bits of life. I think Anh's mum is a hero (and probably his dad too in ways), not only in what she achieved but also in her attitude and unfailing belief in her children!
Ruth Bonetti
Sep 16, 2013 Ruth Bonetti rated it really liked it
This is a marvellous book, well written from the opening teasing pages. Anh Do shares openly and honestly the hardships, poverty and pain of being deserted by his father, but he is not one for the maudlin or victim mentality. His irrepressible humour lifts even tough stories and prove his strength.

Readable memoir from a likeable character.
David Willoughby
Sep 27, 2010 David Willoughby rated it it was amazing
Anh Do speaks with heart and soul as he tells his family’s story of struggle as they emigrate and try to assimilate into Australian life. This is a world so very different to mine but I was sooo drawn into the story. 10 out of 10.
Lorraine Lipman
Jan 08, 2015 Lorraine Lipman rated it it was amazing
A funny, moving story of a remarkable family. A very easy read. You come away thinking what a nice man he is , someone I'd like to meet.
Bill
Mar 28, 2016 Bill rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Hilarious, uplifting, inspiring.
Vivian
Apr 16, 2016 Vivian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
3rd read for #genrethon
2.5
First off, I get it. I completely understand why this book is so well loved and highly praised. Anh has a really captivating voice and he's clearly a great anecdotal writer. It's funny, heartwarming and super engaging. I laughed out loud and I teared up. The pacing's great. But that doesn't negate all the problems I had with it.

At the start, Anh retraces his family's journey to Australia from Vietnam via boat. It's very compelling with amazing descriptions that really
...more
Karen
Apr 07, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing
Every now and then along comes a book which just restores your faith in life. Anh Do's THE HAPPIEST REFUGEE is one such book. Mind you, it will make you feel good, it will make you cry in a few places, it will really make you think about what it is to be a "refugee" and how we treat / react to current day boat people. Mostly though, this was a book that restores a bit of your faith in humanity.

Anh and his family escaped war torn Vietnam as boat people. They took a dangerous and harrowing journey
...more
Sam Still Reading
Oct 30, 2010 Sam Still Reading rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Australians
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: I like Anh Do's humour
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 D
...more
Annie
Jul 22, 2012 Annie rated it really liked it
Not sure if anyone remembers- or ever closely followed as much as my family and I did- 'Thank God You're Here' a few years ago, but I certainly do. For no reason in particular it became a family pastime. To be honest I'm not entirely sure how often we enjoyed it, but I can recall these two things; 1. Hamish Blake can kiss me anytime he wants to, and 2. Anh Do is such a great human and I adore his humour and character. This show being a big part of ours lives for about 4 years as i enjoyed Anh's ...more
Aleeshas2
The Happiest Refugee tells of the struggles and obstacles Anh Do faced to get to where his is today. The only thing better than a novel about a protagonist who overcomes all odds to achieve greatness is one which happens to be true. Anh do's life is a captivating and inspiring story which gives the audience insight into what it was like to be a Vietnamese refugee through his own experience . I believe there is only so much facts and figures can tell someone compared to experiencing things first ...more
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The Happiest Refugee 1 2 Sep 02, 2016 06:21PM  
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Anh Do is an accomplished writer, actor, producer and stand-up comedian.

After bagging all the comedy awards around town, including the Sydney Comedian of the Year, and appearing on all the TV shows that feature comedians, including "Thank God You're Here" and "Rove Live", Anh finally realized that those regular gigs at Rooty Hill bikers club would one day get him killed, so he has supplemented the
...more
More about Anh Do...

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“There are only two times. Now and too late.” 38 likes
“And don't kid yourself; when you don't decide, that's a decision.” 19 likes
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