Lam, Vincent 1974-
Lam, Vincent 1974-
Born 1974, in London, Ontario, Canada; married (a doctor); children: one son.
Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
Toronto East General Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, emergency room physician.
Giller Prize, 2006, for Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures: Stories.
Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures: Stories, Doubleday Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006.
(With Colin Lee) The Flu Pandemic and You: A Canadian Guide, Doubleday Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006.
Contributor of nonfiction to periodicals, including the Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, Toronto Life, and the University of Toronto Medical Journal. Also contributor of fiction to periodicals, including Carve Magazine.
Vincent Lam is an emergency room physician in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and also performs international air evacuation work and expedition medicine on ships in the Arctic and Antarctic. He is a frequent contributor of articles to Canadian periodicals and he is also a short-story writer. Lam grew up in Ottawa in a family that was part of the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam.
Lam told Junot Diaz, an interviewer for Entertainment Weekly Online, about his life as a doctor who writes, commenting that when a person appears in the emergency room, it is because "they have had a plot twist. Their life is going along in [one direction,] and then boom, something happens. And that's when they come to me. And so basically what they're looking for is an interpretation of that plot twist. As well as treatment, some way to make it better."
At the age of thirty-three, Lam was the youngest writer to receive the prestigious Giller Prize for his first book, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures: Stories, a collection of stories that he wrote between shifts while working at the hospital. Library Journal reviewer David A. Berona described the interconnected stories as being "written in a straightforward manner." The four main characters include three male residents, Fitzgerald or Fitz, Sri, and Chen, and one woman, Ming. A Publish-ers Weekly contributor commented that "Lam puts all the sex, and death and sleep deprivation crucial to any hospital drama" into his book.
Reviewing the book in CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, Shane Nielson wrote that for the most part, medical terms "are placed so well that the layperson might admire the language without feeling left out or patronized. After all, there's a certain amount of poetry in medical lingo, and Lam mines this. That said, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures will obviously appeal to the medically inclined, moving as it does from the halcyon days of struggling to get into medical school through the de rigueur portrayal of anatomy class to the drama of a cardiopulmonary arrest."
New York Times Book Review contributor Evan Hughes favored the story "Night Flight," in which Fitz flies to Guatemala to care for a tourist who has had a stroke, but he loses him due to the unavailability of a neurosurgeon or recent CT scan. Fitz chooses to keep the truth from the man's wife, instead saying that he would have died even if he had been stricken at home. Fitz and Ming become involved romantically, but he loses her to Chen. In a later story, Fitz and Chen are both infected with SARS and isolated together. Hughes wrote: "Some of the best stories in Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures read like journalistic dispatches from the medical front lines, with careful psychological characterization added. As such, Lam's book represents a promising demonstration of fiction's unique power." The book includes a glossary of medical terms.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books in Canada, summer, 2006, Anne Cimon, review of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures: Stories.
British Medical Journal, November 25, 2006, Helen Roberts, review of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, p. 1127.
Canadian Geographic, September 1, 2006, Tim Lougheed, review of The Flu Pandemic and You: A Canadian Guide, p. 89.
Canadian Literature, spring, 2007, Maria N. Ng, review of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, p. 132.
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, February 28, 2006, Shane Nielson, review of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, p. 665.
Entertainment Weekly, September 7, 2007, Jennifer Armstrong, review of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, p. 82.
Library Journal, August 1, 2007, David A. Berona, review of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, p. 78.
Maclean's, November 20, 2006, Kate Fillion, "No Matter How Well You've Performed, You Just Have to Move On to the Next Patient, or the Next Book," interview, p. 22.
New York Times Book Review, October 28, 2007, Evan Hughes, review of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures.
Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2007, review of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, p. 28.
Canadian Television Web site,http://www.ctv.ca/ (November 6, 2006), "Giller Prize Bio: Vincent Lam," interview.
Entertainment Weekly Online,http://www.ew.com/ (November 19, 2007), Junot Diaz, interview.
Vincent Lam Home Page,http://www.vincentlam.ca (November 19, 2007).