Nominated by:

Calgary Public Library, Canada

New York Public Library, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Doubleday Canada

Hogarth, USA

The Headmaster’s Wager

Vincent Lam      

2014 Longlist

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.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Vincent Lam is from the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. He is an emergency physician in Toronto. His first book, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Lam is also the author of a biography of Tommy Douglas, published as part of the Extraordinary Canadians series. He and his family live in Toronto.

Librarians’ Comments

From Giller Prize winner, 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. Blessed with intriguingly flawed characters moving through a richly drawn historicl and physical landscape, this genuine page-turner is a riveting story of love, betrayal and sacrifice.

Lyrical first novel.


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