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Anh Do and his family fled to Australia as refugees in 1980. In his 2010 autobiography, The Happiest Refugee, Do tells of how his family survived five days in a leaky fishing boat nine and a half metres long and two metres wide. During the trip, his family and the rest of the passengers were attacked by two different bands of pirates. The first group stole one out of the two engines and the second group of pirates stole the second engine, which had been broken but repaired by Anh's father using a piece of rubber from a thong. It was reported that as the second band of pirates left, one of them threw a gallon of water onboard which kept all but one of the refugees alive until they were finally rescued by a German Merchant ship. The boat was packed with 40 Vietnamese refugees fleeing across the Indian Ocean. "We were crammed in like sardines," he said. The Happiest Refugee has won many awards, including the 2011 Australian Book of the Year, Biography of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, as well as the Indie Book of the Year Award 2011, Non-fiction Indie Book of the Year 2011, and it was shortlisted for the 2011 NSW Premier's Literary Awards, Community Relations Commission Award.