Books·Canadian

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

Vincent Lam's debut collection of 12 interwoven short stories follows four young medical students and physicians. The book won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2006.

Vincent Lam

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures welcomes readers into a world where the most mundane events can quickly become life or death. By following four young medical students and physicians — Ming, Fitz, Sri and Chen — this debut collection from Vincent Lam is a riveting, eye-opening account of what it means to be a doctor. Deftly navigating his way through 12 interwoven short stories, the author explores the characters' relationships with each other, their patients, and their careers. Lam draws on his own experience as an emergency room physician and shares an insider's perspective on the fears, frustrations, and responsibilities linked with one of society's most highly regarded occupations. (From Anchor Canada)

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Read an excerpt | Author interviews

From the book

HOW TO GET INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL, PART I

Desperate stragglers arrived late for the molecular biology final examination, their feet wet from tramping through snowbanks and their faces damp from running. Some still wore coats, and rummaged in the pockets for pens. Entering the exam hall, a borrowed gymnasium, from the whipping chaos of the snowstorm was to be faced with a void. Eyeglasses fogged, xenon lamps burned their blue-tinged light, and the air was calm with its perpetual fragrance of old paint. The lamps buzzed, and their constant static was like a sheet pulled out from under the snowstorm, though low enough that the noise vanished quickly. Proctors led latecomers to vacant seats among the hundreds of desks, each evenly spaced at the University of Ottawa's minimum requisite distance.

The invigilators allowed them to sit the exam but, toward the end of the allotted period, ignored their pleas for extra time on account of the storm. Ming, who had finished early, centered her closed exam booklet in front of her. Fitzgerald was still hunched over his paper. She didn't want to wait outside for him, preferring it to be very coincidental that she would leave the room at the same time he did. Hopefully he would suggest they go for lunch together. If he did not ask, she would be forced to, perhaps using a little joke. Ming tended to stumble over humor. She could ask what he planned to do this afternoon — was that the kind of thing people said? On scrap paper, she wrote several possible ways to phrase the question, and in doing so almost failed to notice when Fitzgerald stood up, handed in his exam, and left the room.


From Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam © 2006. Published by Anchor Canada.

Author interviews

Award-winning author Vincent Lam shares some of his favourite short story collections with the CBC Book Club. 2:19
Shelagh's extended conversation with Vincent Lam, author of "The Headmaster's Wager". 32:35