Vincent Lam Biography
Dr. Vincent Lam was born in London, Ontario. His
family emigrated from Vietnam during the Vietnam War and he grew up in Ottawa
speaking Cantonese at home. He did his
medical training in Toronto, where he now lives and works as an emergency physician.
He also does
international air evacuation work and expedition medicine on Arctic and
Now aged 32 but so young looking that he claims he sometimes still gets carded,
he is married and has a son named Theodore.
Lam made his first attempt to write at about the age of 16 having read and reread
Ernest Hemingway's Nick Adams Stories, which he describes as "perfect".
Due to the pressures of medical school and training, he did not return to
writing until he had fully qualified as a doctor. Having accumulated a pile of
rejection slips from literary magazines, he took a writing course at the
University of Toronto and joined a writing group. He also enrolled in a
correspondence program offered by the Humber School for Writers.
the same time he met Margaret Atwood and her partner Graham Gibson on board
The Akademic Ioffe, a Russian scientific vessel leased to an Australian-based
expedition company that takes nature-lovers to out of the
way places such as the Arctic. Lam was the ship's doctor. After the
voyage, he sent Atwood some of his stories. Atwood was sufficiently impressed with what she read that she passed
the manuscript to the publisher of Doubleday Canada.
The result is Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, a series of interconnected
short stories that won the 2006 Canadian Giller Prize, making Lam the youngest
writer to have won the prize. Shortly after
publishing Bloodletting in Canada (Jan 2006), he published a nonfiction
book with Colin Lee titled The Flu Pandemic and You (Sep 2006).
Lam's first novel, The Headmaster's Wager (published in the USA in August 2012), which is set in the Chinese community of Saigon, tells of Percival Chen, a character we meet in "A Long Migration", one of the short stories in Bloodletting. Chen flees from the 1945 Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, makes a fortune as a headmaster of an English school in Saigon and loses it as a gambler during the
Vietnam War. In 1998, he is dying from cancer in Brisbane, Australia, receiving occasional visits from his children and grandchildren scattered around the world. The story is somewhat based on Lam's own experience caring for
his dying grandfather in Brisbane, who had been a respected schoolmaster, gambler and womanizer.
This biography was last updated on 05/08/2012.
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