Anh Do's funny/sad autobiography won this years Indie Award for non-fiction.
The Happiest Refugee was very easy to read, full of self-deprecating humour and honesty. I grew up with tales of Vietnamese boat people on the news. During the 70's there was a lot of media backlash against the boat people and racism and fear about Asian gangs was rife.
It's not so different now except that the boat people are coming from different countries.
Australians are curious beings. Some of us can say the most obnoxious generalisations and racist comments at the drop of a hat. But underneath, and at a personal level, we can be kind-hearted and generous. Any story that personalises and humanises this issue can only be a good thing.
Anh Do is so likeable and easy-going that even the staunchest anti-immigrationist must be moved by his story.
Autobiographies can be a cathartic experience for the writer; but Anh Do's story can also help us to exorcise the ghosts of 1970's Australian history.