Thursday, 17 March 2011

Book: The Happiest Refugee (Ahn Do)

This book has got to rate as one of the best ever. I heard Meyles chuckling away to himself as he read it. In fact, just this week it has been announced the ‘2011 Book of the Year’! Both Meyles and I have read it, my bookgroup, my sister, both my parents, my neighbour and some of the husbands of the bookgroup girls (who only usually read blokey sports stuff) and without exception have all whizzed through it, thoroughly enjoying every page.

A memoir by Anh Do, this is a story of a family’s dangerous escape and journey to Australia; being dirt poor but being generous; valuing the family unit and a ruthless dedication to hard work; being accepted in Australia; becoming a well-loved comedian; and the hilarious stories of everyday things like the parrot that could poo on command. I laughed at the descriptions of simple things seen through Anh’s eyes and was impacted by the level of danger and risk taken as refugees. The story has danger, grief, courage and love.

Recently I sent a message to Anh Do via is website email, asking him when he would be touring Newcastle. I also put in the email how much I enjoyed his book. To my delight he answered my email directly and sent regards to my family. His email was warm and he came across as genuinely pleased to hear from me. I saw him being interviewed on telly and he said something to this effect:

“My parents always said as we were growing up: ‘You know, we could be dead. But we’re not. So make sure your life counts for something!’ And that’s always what I’ve tried to do.” (Ahn Do)

This is a beautiful book and one I would highly recommend. Have you read it? What were your impressions? Click ‘comments’ and share your insights.


  1. It is a great book, that truly highlights the importance of gratitude in contributing to a happy life

  2. Hi Louise! Totally agree with the 'gratitude attitude' and how that is an important element in a happy life. I can't imagine anybody not liking this book. Cheers x

  3. This is possibly the worst boo ever written, I hate it so very much. I hate it's lack of depth and thought towards people other Then Anh and his extended family. There language features, pace and dullness is excruciating. I can't see how this book has received any praise.


  4. "The person who writes for fools is always sure of a large audience."

    - Arthur Schopenhauer

  5. wow I so agree with the last few comments.... If i have to hear one more story about his mother choking through her tears of joy as he stars in yet another television program I will be sick.