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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Thursday, November 9, 2006 12:34 pm
Lam Wins the Giller
Posted by: Keir Graff

Vincent Lam, a Chinese-Canadian emergency-room doctor, has won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for his short-story collection, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures. (The book has not  been published in the U.S.) Over 515,000 people watched on television (this is Canada, after all), as he received the $40,000 prize (that’s about $35,450 U.S.).

And it pays to have a mentor:

Lam’s career received a significant boost about three years ago when he met acclaimed author Atwood while working as a doctor on a ship. He worked up the courage to ask her to read his manuscript and she agreed.

“Since then she has continued to be very supportive and is a great friend,” he said.

Bloodletting‘s 12 interconnected stories are about a group of medical students and young doctors. One of the stories, “Contact Tracing,” was inspired by his experience on the front lines of the SARS epidemic. Lam offered this interesting quote about being a doctor who writes:

“The link between doctors and writers is narrative,” Lam said at home yesterday, taking time to savour his prize before getting back to the workaday gore of the emergency ward.

“What happens is, someone tells me the start of a story, and much of what I’m supposed to do is tell them the ending. The other thing I’m supposed to do is make the ending of the story better.”

“Workaday gore”? If you ask me, that would have been a better title for the book. Then again, I’m American.

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