From internationally acclaimed and bestselling author Vincent Lam comes a superbly crafted, highly suspenseful, and deeply affecting novel set against the turmoil of the Vietnam War.
Percival Chen is the headmaster of the most respected English school in Saigon. He is also a bon vivant, a compulsive gambler and an incorrigible womanizer. Well accustomed to bribing government officials, he is quick to spot the business opportunities rife in a divided country. He devotedly ignores all news of conflict, choosing instead to read the faces of his opponents at high-stakes mahjong tables.
But when his only son gets in trouble with the Vietnamese authorities, Percival 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, and Laing Jai, a son born to them on the eve of the Tet offensive. Percival’s new-found happiness is precarious, and as the complexities of war encroach further and further into his world.
Blessed with intriguingly flawed characters moving through a richly drawn historical and physical landscape, The Headmaster’s Wager is a riveting story of love, betrayal and sacrifice.
Reviews of The Headmaster’s Wager
- Praise for ‘Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures’:
- ‘Direct in style, unsparing though compassionate in observation, subtle in emotion, and occasionally gruesome in humour, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures follows four medical students from widely different backgrounds as their stories intertwine, as their illusions shatter, and as the meanings of many lives expand around them. The good news is that doctors are human beings. The bad news is that doctors are human beings. The other good news is that this book marks a stunning debut.’ Margaret Atwood, upon introducing Lam at the Giller Prize presentation
- ‘Reading about medical problems and what goes on in the emergency ward is just absolutely enthralling to all of us, but in this case it’s much more than that – it’s the characters and the movement and the ease of the storytelling that I just found so irresistible.’ Alice Munro
- ‘A masterly debut…incisive, clear prose as faultless as a carefully stitched suture.’ Guardian
- ‘Fresh and sparkling…almost every story here has the compulsive what-next charge of true drama beautifully carried by Lam’s clear, understated, confident prose.’ Sunday Times
- ‘Scalpel sharp, as cool and polished as the steel of the mortuary table.’ Financial Times
- ‘There’s no reason why Bloodletting… shouldn’t become as big a hit in this country as it has been in Canada. Simply sit back, relax and enjoy the effortless charm of Lam’s storytelling.’ Scotsman