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The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam

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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.

If you like Vincent Lam you might also like to read books by Manisha Jolie Amin, Elif Shafak and Tan Twan Eng.


The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam

Percival Chen is headmaster of the most respected English school in Saigon, a patriot, fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage. He is also a compulsive gambler and an incorrigible womanizer. He devotedly ignores all news of the fighting that swirls around him, content to pay the requisite bribes to the ever-changing government officials and to spend his nights at the casino tables. When his only son gets in trouble with the Vietnamese authorities, Percival has no choice but to send him away. In the loneliness that follows, Percival finds solace with Jacqueline, a beautiful woman of mixed French and Vietnamese heritage. But as the conflict intensifies, the time will come when the headmaster must confront the truths he once refused to see. Blessed with intriguingly flawed characters moving through a landscape ravaged by war, 'The Headmaster's Wager' is an almost unbearably tense story of love, betrayal and sacrifice.


'A first novel of astonishing force, craft and beauty, The Headmaster's Wager conjures up a dizzyingly evocative wartime Saigon in the story of Percival Chen, a Chinese schoolmaster in Vietnam. This extraordinary book made me weep. Read it'
Janice Y.K. Lee, author of The Piano Teacher

'Sumptuously plotted...Lam goes for the jugular, combining an operatic love story...with evocations of Vietnam's occupation by the Japanese and the later horrors of the Viet Cong'
New York Times Book Review

'A masterfully paced exploration of a world convulsed by war, wherein faith and reason no longer hold sway...[Lam] depicts a world caught in an implacable cycle of violence, leavened only by the grace of a father's love'
Publishers Weekly

'Hugely impressive...powerful and engrossing...The Headmaster's Wager has the makings of a masterpiece'
The Globe and Mail

About the Author

Dr Vincent Lam was born in London, Ontario. His family is from the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. He studied medicine in Toronto and is an emergency physician. He lives in Toronto with his wife and children.

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Book Info

Publication date

11th April 2013


Vincent Lam

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Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


400 pages


Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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