The Headmaster’s Wager

Vincent Lam. Random/Hogarth, $25 (416p) ISBN 978-0-307-98646-7
Lam’s latest (after Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures) is a masterfully paced exploration of a world convulsed by war, wherein faith and reason no longer hold sway. Percival Chen, an affluent Chinese English instructor in late 1960s Saigon, is determined to escape the politics of war-torn Vietnam, profiting from the sidelines instead. 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. 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. Agent: Christy Fletcher. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/02/2012
Release date: 08/14/2012
Open Ebook - 283 pages - 978-0-307-98647-4
Compact Disc - 978-0-449-80829-0
Hardcover - 400 pages - 978-0-385-66145-4
Paperback - 393 pages - 978-0-00-734035-4
Paperback - 441 pages - 978-0-307-98648-1
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-385-66146-1
Open Ebook - 978-0-307-36791-4
Hardcover - 978-1-60286-165-7
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!