PW Picks: Best New Books for Week of August 13, 2012

Gabe Habash, Publisher's Weekly
August 10, 2012

T he Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam (Random/Hogarth) – This masterfully paced exploration of a world convulsed by war follows Percival Chen, an affluent Chinese English instructor in late 1960s Saigon who is determined to escape the politics of war-torn Vietnam. He instructs his son, Dai Jai, to remain faithful only to their Chinese heritage, not realizing that even this allegiance has become a deadly liability. Obeying his father's edict, Dai Jai is arrested by Vietnamese authorities, and Percival exhausts his shady connections in his attempts to rescue Dai Jai from the brutality of the police. Meanwhile, Percival falls in love with Jacqueline—a mixed-race prostitute with ulterior motives—despite the objections of his loyal friend Mak, a man embroiled in his own mysterious affairs. Lam marshals his characters with humor, suspense, and tenderness as the fall of Saigon looms—he depicts a world caught in an implacable cycle of violence, leavened only by the grace of a father's love.

Excerpted from longer article.

© Publisher's Weekly 2012