The Headmaster's Wager Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Apr 24 2012
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Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize
“Lam has created a genuine page-turner. The author takes full advantage of the inherent suspense as the fall of Saigon looms and Chen finally realizes that he and his family may not survive the violence of the Viet Cong. The Headmaster’s Wager is a novel full of surprises and excitement.” —Quill & Quire
“I love this book's vivid realization and its deft weave of conspiracies. I especially admire Lam's ability to transport a reader. . . . A colourful, suspenseful depiction of Chinese living in Vietnam during the war.”
—The Globe and Mail
“Lam writes tellingly about intrigue, political collusion and the clash of cultures.”
“With the deft use of dreams and flashbacks, Lam fills in the family back-story without losing the forward momentum of the gripping political tale that echoes the intrigues of Dr. Zhivago and Graham Greene. Arresting poetic images of pleasure and pain, of sex and death, are stitched together with surgical precision . . . An alchemist who has turned rough familial coal into literary gold (and with any luck, cinematic gold), Lam has forged a testament to the immutable power of the filial bond, mapping the conscious and unconscious transmission of gifts and curses of a single family, and therefore all families.”
—Literary Review of Canada
“Lam marshals his characters with humor, suspense, and tenderness as the fall of Saigon looms. Even as Percival navigates the minefield of shifting ideologies, treachery, and paranoia—incurring one inconceivable cost upon another—his devotion suffuses every page. Lam depicts a world caught in an implacable cycle of violence, leavened only by the grace of a father’s love.”
"The Headmaster's Wager does what only the very best literature can do: it provides characters you care about deeply (even as they break your heart) and has plot twists you don't see coming but then couldn't imagine any other way. Vincent Lam has written a mature and rewarding novel of the highest quality, and Percival Chen will remain with you long after the final page. This is an exceptional book."
—Andrew Davidson, author of The Gargoyle
“A first novel of astonishing force, craft and beauty, The Headmaster's Wager conjures up a dizzyingly evocative wartime Saigon in the story of Percival Chen, a Chinese schoolmaster in Vietnam. This extraordinary book made me weep. Read it.”
—Janice Y.K. Lee, author of the New York Times bestseller The Piano Teacher
About the Author
DR. VINCENT LAM is from the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam, and was born in Canada. Dr. Lam did his medical training and is an emergency physician in Toronto. He is a Lecturer with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. He has also worked in international air evacuation and expedition medicine on Arctic and Antarctic ships. Dr. Lam's first book, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and has recently been adapted for television and broadcast on HBO Canada. Dr. Lam co-authored The Flu Pandemic and You, a non-fiction guide to influenza pandemics.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The Joy Luck Club, Memoirs of a Geisha, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Shogun...I loved them all.
But I've never read a book that takes place in Viet Nam, and I've never read a book about an Asian father and son.
That's why I was looking forward to The Headmaster's Wager.
Giller prize winning Vincent Lam has a way with words that will whisk you away. His characters are wonderful, the setting is amazing and the history is rich and tragic.
Percival lives his life with his eyes closed, completely oblivious to the events happening around him. His blind faith in his ancestors is tested time after time, yet he continues to believe that they will bring him the luck he desperately needs and will keep his son safe.
There were times when I wanted to reach into the book and slap him to try to get him to wake up and SEE the world around him!
This story told a part of the Viet Nam war that I never knew. Reading it was devastating, heartbreaking and REAL.
The love-story intertwined with the horrid effects of the war is touching and beautiful. I loved Jacqueline and I adored Laing Jai.
The twist in the story was brilliant, and one I didn't see coming at all.
The most surprising thing was how thrilling one specific game of mahjong is in this book! I know nothing about mahjong, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!
I think the end of this book might cause issues with some readers, but I wasn't one of them. I LOVED the way it ended and I'm glad Mr. Lam decided to go the way he did.
If you enjoyed the books I mentioned above, I think you'll love The Headmaster's Wager. It's about a father, a son, a lover, a war...and it will tear at your heartstrings.
THE HEADMASTER'S WAGER is Canadian Vincent Lam's eagerly awaited first novel, following the author's 2006 Scotia Bank Giller Prize for his story collection Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I liked the fact that this was an easy book to read and to connect to the characters .
I found it difficult to relate to the choices that Percival made and his lack of... Read more
Loved this book. Historical fiction is my favourite type of read. It seemed to come alive and it was so interesting following the Headmasters adventures.Published 23 months ago by Marianne Lewsey
Vincent Lam's book is an excellent story about one man's struggles to protect the ones he loves during the Viet Nam War. Read morePublished on Oct. 27 2013 by jwo
I enjoyed the style of Vincent Lam in a historical background with a super story line.
The characters are well developed and captivate the reader's interest.
Mr. Lam’s first novel is a fiction inspired by his own family history.
At the heart is the story of Chen Pie Sou, also known as Percival, the headmaster of the... Read more
There is much that hold's your interest in this well-written story. The instability of life and circumstances in post WWII Asia is well described. Read morePublished on Aug. 8 2013 by Michael G. Francis
Vincent Lam’s writing career has barely begun, but already he is becoming a literary icon in Canada. Read morePublished on June 21 2013 by Sean Malcolm