Vincent Lam

Article by Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail
October 30, 2006


oronto doctor and writer Vincent Lam is the author of Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures (Doubleday Canada), a collection of short stories with medical settings. It is a nominee for the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Why write?

A short question with a huge answer. Because stories are what we are all about and, at the end of the day, we are all not much more than a collection of our stories, and the meanings that those events have for us. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married, live together and have children and then die. It's the basic story that many of us live; although it sounds pretty run-of-the-mill, what happens in there is actually huge.

What did you say when you heard you were nominated for the Giller?

I found out that I was long-listed for the Giller via voicemail, and I was taking care of my son. He is just under two years old. I think I said something like "Yes, we can get you some juice; do you want to read books?" It was one of those voice mails I didn't completely understand, and because it was from my agency, I thought they had called the wrong person, which would be completely understandable because they have lots of clients. So, I didn't take it too seriously. I sort of thought, oh, I should probably call them and tell them to call the right person.

What will you do with the $40,000 prize money if you win?

If I win, I will use the money to have more time to write.

This year's short list was dominated by smaller presses (Cormorant and House of Anansi). What is the future of the big presses when it comes to discovering and promoting new Canadian writing?

My hat is off to the small presses who have got such a huge presence on this list, but I would have to say that as a first-time author I have been exceptionally well treated by my publishing house, which is a big house. Doubleday took a risk signing me on as someone who was completely unproven and unknown. I was very grateful to them. I think there are big-press people and lots of people in the traditional houses who do want to foster young writers; the difficult thing is that, just like everyone else, they are running a business and they have financial constraints.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a novel about a Chinese gambler who lives in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

© The Globe and Mail 2006