The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam

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Lam's fast-paced portrait of Cholon in the years from the Second World War to the early 1970s is captivating. He invigorates the epic, but well-worn, narrative...
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

A superbly crafted, highly suspenseful, and deeply affecting debut novel about one man’s loyalty to his country, his family and his heritage
 
   Percival Chen is the headmaster of the most respected English academy in 1960s Saigon, and he is well accustomed to bribing a forever-changing list of government officials in order to maintain the elite status of his school. Fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage, he is quick to spot the business opportunities rife in a divided country, though he also harbors a weakness for gambling haunts and the women who frequent them. He devotedly ignores all news of the fighting that swirls around him, but when his only son gets in trouble with the Vietnamese authorities, Percival faces the limits of his connections and wealth and is forced to send him away. 
   In the loneliness that follows, Percival finds solace in Jacqueline, a beautiful woman of mixed French and Vietnamese heritage whom he is able to confide in. But Percival's new-found happiness is precarious, and as the complexities of war encroach further into his world, he must confront the tragedy of all he has refused to see.
   Graced with intriguingly flawed but wonderfully human characters moving through a richly drawn historical landscape, The Headmaster's Wager is an unforgettable story of love, betrayal and sacrifice.
 

About Vincent Lam

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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.
 
Published August 14, 2012 by Hogarth. 450 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Headmaster's Wager
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Sonnet L'abb on Apr 27 2012

Lam's fast-paced portrait of Cholon in the years from the Second World War to the early 1970s is captivating. He invigorates the epic, but well-worn, narrative...

Read Full Review of The Headmaster's Wager | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Apr 27 2012

This is one literary novel, or novel with literary ambitions, that would almost certainly gain from being transferred to the big screen.

Read Full Review of The Headmaster's Wager | See more reviews from National Post arts

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