Happy refugee get’s the win!
Comedian and author Anh Do, who has just won a major literary prize for his book The Happiest Refugee, says there is less empathy in the community for asylum seekers today than when he arrived from war-torn Vietnam.
Anh Do was already well known as a comedian, but has firmly established himself as an author after last night winning the top prize at the Australian Book Industry Awards for his work.
The book details his family’s journey to Australia and the difficulties they faced in their new life.
Anh Do says he has sympathy for those seeking asylum today.
“We were put into a hostel,” he said.
“I’ve been to Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney and it’s all barbed wire, it’s like a big jail.”
He says he wrote the book because his family had an interesting story.
His uncles fought alongside Australian soldiers in the Vietnam War, making his family possible targets for retribution.
“One of my uncles was a sapper who cleared landmines for ANZACS,” he said.
“Because of that our lives were in danger. Forty of us on a 9-metre fishing boat, and we headed for Malaysia.”
Anh Do was also awarded the prize for newcomer of the year and was the joint winner of biography of the year with musician Paul Kelly.
He says he is grateful for the accolades and can hardly believe how well his book has been received.
“It’s a real shock … I thanked my mum in the acceptance speech because when I was a kid I had troubles with reading and writing,” he told the ABC’s AM program.
“I was in the special needs group and my mum took me and we bought a big box of books from St Vinnies. And mum helped me turn that weakness around and I got to love books and to win the Australian Book of the Year tonight is indescribable.”
Credit – http://www.abc.net.au