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The Headmaster's Wager

Narrated by: Feodor Chin
Length: 15 hrs and 49 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

From Giller Prize winner, internationally acclaimed, and best-selling author Vincent Lam comes a superbly crafted, highly suspenseful, and deeply affecting novel set against the turmoil of the Vietnam War.

Percival Chen is the headmaster of the most respected English school in Saigon. He is also a bon vivant, a compulsive gambler, and an incorrigible womanizer. He is well accustomed to bribing a forever-changing list of government officials in order to maintain the elite status of the Chen Academy. He is fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage, and quick to spot the business opportunities rife in a divided country. He 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. But 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, and Laing Jai, a son born to them on the eve of the Tet offensive. 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.

Blessed with intriguingly flawed characters moving through a richly drawn historical and physical landscape, The Headmaster's Wager is a riveting story of love, betrayal, and sacrifice. 

©2012 Vincent Lam (P)2018 Doubleday Canada

Critic Reviews

“I love this book's vivid realization and its deft weave of conspiracies. I especially admire Lam's ability to transport a reader.... A colorful, 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)  

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