The Happiest Refugee – Book Review

'The Happiest Refugee' by Ahn DoThe Happiest Refugee’– A Memoir by Ahn Do

Whenever you see Aussie comedian, Ahn Do, on television he is always so happy. ‘The Happiest Refugee’ is just the perfect title for his book.

It’s not all lightness and laughter. He does not gloss over his tough upbringing; his family’s struggles in poverty during the Vietnamese war; the perilous boat trip to Malaysia through pirate-infested waters and finally being accepted into Australia (though his father thought they were going to Austria).

There are stories of how his father’s ‘you can do anything’ attitude and his mother’s ‘look after those less fortunate’ outlook got him into trouble. Then there is his family always celebrating coming second or a partial win because you gave it your best shot.

No life is perfectly happy and neither is Ahn’s. There is separation and fear but also encouraging words from a teacher that planted a seed – ‘Ahn, you’re a very talented storyteller’. It sprouted when he discovered how many hours a week a good comedian worked.

Throughout the book are the family stories. Ahn has been privileged to discover the courage, the sadness and the regret of family circumstances that help us all to respect and have empathy for those most important to us.

Lastly he includes what we all want – insider stories, usually humorous, of the work of a much-loved Australian comedian and film-maker.

Read it! You will enjoy it and have tears of happiness on the last page.


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