Pottersfield Press has published a new book by Prince Edward Island resident Thien Tang. The book, The Other Side of the Sun: the true story of one refugee’s journey, follows the author’s journey as a refugee from Vietnam to Canada.
Between 1979 and 1980 one million Vietnamese refugees escaped their war-torn country; 60,000 settled in Canada. Called the “boat people” upwards of 70% of them died in their perilous journey. Thien Tang survived and documented his tale in The Other Side of the Sun.
Tang had an ordinary childhood living in South Vietnam until life suddenly changed when Vietnam became a Communist state. As one of the boat people refugees, Tan escaped Vietnam in 1979 on a harrowing journey that landed him in a Malaysian refugee camp.
At sea, Tang’s ship was attacked by pirates and shot at by police. On land, as an unwanted refugee in Malaysia, he and his fellow refugees were jailed, starved and beaten, before being forced back out to sea and left to die.
Though he originally planned to seek asylum in the United States, Tang ultimately found the refuge he was seeking in Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Thien Tang describes the inspiration for writing this book: “My objective is for the readers to enjoy and feel connected to my story and develop a deeper understanding of how a refugee is made but not be burdened by it. To write about events that happened some thirty years ago required digging into the darkest corners of my mind to haul out the bits and pieces of sorrowful memories, while carefully handling them like hand grenades.
“There are many refugees in the world and I suspect they all have personal stories without a venue to tell. Perhaps the next time you meet some refugees, you will be able to tag my story to those nameless faces and feel as if you know them.”
Tang has a Bachelor of Science from UPEI, is a self-employed computer programmer with his company TCT Technology Holdings Ltd., and still resides in PEI with his wife. He has an adult son and daughter.