We first met the author of this book, Kim Huynh, when he was two years old. It was at the Canberra domestic air terminal and Kim’s family had just arrived from a refugee camp – tired, somewhat bewildered, but excited and ready to make a go of things. That’s a whole other story than what this book is about, yet one catches a hint of challenges that have been met and embraced over the years since.
Kim, now an associate lecturer in international politics at Australian National University, has carefully researched and documented his family’s story against the background of almost six decades of political upheaval that was Vietnam until the 1980s. In a winsome journalistic style, he has married familial affection, academic prowess, and cross-cultural reflection as he tells his family’s story.
I am struck with how Kim manages to articulate a comprehensive overview of modern history in South East Asia, including many resulting traumatic episodes for family members, with such grace and compassion and traces of laconic Aussie humour.
Kim’s deeply expressed respect for his family and country of origin’s narrative is reflected in the note on the cover announcing that all royalties from sales of the book are being donated to Médecins Sans Frontières Australia.