- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Hogarth (August 14, 2012)
Percival Chen is the wealthy headmaster of the most respected English-language academy in Saigon in 1966. Chen is fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage, and quick to spot the business opportunities rife in a divided country. He builds a rich life for himself and his only son, Dai Jai, through his many contacts and clever negotiations. But Chen also has many failings: he is a bon vivant, a compulsive gambler at the high-stakes mahjongg tables, and has a taste for drink, as well as a weakness for women.
When Dai Jai gets into trouble with the Vietnamese authorities, Chen faces the limits of his connections and is forced to send him back to China, albeit reluctantly. In the loneliness that follows, Chen finds solace in Jacqueline, a beautiful woman of mixed French and Vietnamese heritage. But Chen’s new-found happiness is precarious, and as the complexities of war encroach further into his world, he is forced to confront the escalating tragedy around him.
THE HEADMASTER’S WAGER illuminates the experiences of the Chinese community within Vietnam, at a time when Asian traditions and world events collided, the emotional dynamics of inter-racial romances in wartime Vietnam, and the activities of the Vietnamese secret police during the war. This sweeping novel also vividly recounts the Japanese occupation of China, the French colonization of Vietnam, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Lam masterfully brings these major historical events to life through a story that explores both the complexities of war and the enduring bond between a father and son.
“A masterfully paced exploration of a world convulsed by war, wherein faith and reason no longer hold sway…Lam marshals his characters with humor, suspense, and tenderness.”–Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Lam, winner of the Scotiabank Giller prize for his short story collection Bloodletting and Other Miraculous Cures, has created a tour de force that reaches from the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong to the American withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975.”–Library Journal, starred review
“Lam writes tellingly about intrigue, political collusion and the clash of cultures.”–Kirkus
“In his first novel, Lam provides both an unusual perspective on the Vietnam War and a sweeping story of one man’s brutal education in realpolitik.”–Booklist
DR. VINCENT LAM is from the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. Born in Canada, Lam is an emergency physician and 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 Giller Prize and has been adapted for television and broadcast on HBO Canada..
Dr. Vincent Lam’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, September 10th: The Bowed Bookshelf
Monday, September 17th: Book Chase
Wednesday, September 19th: Bibliophiliac
Wednesday, September 26th: Lit and Life
Monday, October 1st: BookNAround
Wednesday, October 3rd: Ted Lehmann’s Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms
Thursday, October 4th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, October 8th: Paperback Princess
Wednesday, October 10th: Unabridged Chick
Monday, October 15th: A Book Geek
Tuesday, October 16th: My Bookshelf
Thursday, October 18th: Bookish Habits
Monday, October 22nd: Girls Just Reading
Monday, October 29th: Susan’s Literary Cafe
Thursday, November 1st: A Novel Review