The Headmaster's Wager

The Headmaster's Wager

3.88 (4,628 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$18.00

Currently unavailable

We can notify you when this item is back in stock

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


The headmaster of the most respected English school in Saigon, Percival Chen is also a bon vivant, a compulsive gambler and an incorrigible womanizer. Fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage, and quick to spot the business opportunities rife in a divided country, Percival devotedly ignores all news of the fighting that swirls around him, choosing instead to read the faces of his opponents at high-stakes mahjong tables. 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. But Percival's new-found happiness is precarious, and as the complexities of war encroach further and further into his world, he must confront the tragedy of all he has refused to see.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 448 pages
  • 160 x 233 x 26mm | 494g
  • Canada
  • English
  • 0385661460
  • 9780385661461

Review quote

"I love this book's vivid realization and its deft weave of conspiracies. I especially admire Lam's ability to transport a reader. . . . A colourful, suspenseful depiction of Chinese living in Vietnam during the war."
--The Globe and Mail "Lam marshals his characters with humor, suspense, and tenderness as the fall of Saigon looms. Even as Percival navigates the minefield of shifting ideologies, treachery, and paranoia--incurring one inconceivable cost upon another--his devotion suffuses every page. Lam depicts a world caught in an implacable cycle of violence, leavened only by the grace of a father's love."
--Publisher's Weekly "The Headmaster's Wager does what only the very best literature can do: it provides characters you care about deeply (even as they break your heart) and has plot twists you don't see coming but then couldn't imagine any other way. Vincent Lam has written a mature and rewarding novel of the highest quality, and Percival Chen will remain with you long after the final page. This is an exceptional book."
--Andrew Davidson, author of The Gargoyle
show more

About Vincent Lam

Vincent Lam is from the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. Trained in Toronto, he was an emergency physician for thirteen years. He is now an addictions medicine physician, the Medical Director of the Coderix Medical Clinic, and a lecturer at the University of Toronto. Lam's debut, a collection of short stories called Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize. His bestselling novel, The Headmaster's Wager, was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction in 2012. He is also the co-author of The Flu Pandemic and You, which received an award from the American Medical Writers Association in 2007, and author of a biography of Tommy Douglas, published as part of the Extraordinary Canadians series. Lam and his family live in Toronto.
show more

Rating details

4,628 ratings
3.88 out of 5 stars
5 26% (1,204)
4 44% (2,050)
3 23% (1,056)
2 5% (228)
1 2% (90)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X