Friday, November 10, 2006

Emergency Doctor Wins Giller

Jordan was kind enough to send me this link to a CBC interview with this year's Giller prize winner.

Canada's major literary award this year went to Toronto doctor and writer, Vincent Lam for his collection of short fiction Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures which follows the lives of four medical students. Lam beat four other authors in a field of relative unknowns.

Lam whose family migrated from Vietnam has apparently been mentored by Margaret Atwood, who helped him to find a publisher. And he is at work on his first novel, which is due out next year. His print debut, incidentally, was with a co-authored medical book: The Flu Pandemic and You.

Lam has a very demanding job as an emergency physician, yet finds no conflict between the day job and writing:
I find that I can be exhausted as a writer after having worked a fair bit and still have the energy to go to the hospital. In fact, I’m relieved by the concreteness of medicine. And I can be mentally exhausted as a doctor and I’ve still got writer energy. They’re very different processes. Writing is something that starts from the page and off you go, whereas with medicine, you’re confronted with a situation and then have to deal with it.
And I liked his answer in the interview about whether his patients ever recognise him from the fiction:
Very occasionally. Thankfully, a couple of things work against that happening. One is that I do emergency medicine, so people come to me when they have emergencies, so they are primarily concerned with their health problems. Two, I’m a man of average build and figure. I haven’t got movie-star looks, so I can blend into the crowd. But I must say that one of the things that sets me apart from other doctors is that if a patient has a book with them, I’m always curious about what they’re reading.

Lotus Reads has a couple of interesting posts about the shortlist and Lam's win.


sympozium said...

Good for Lam!

Lydia Teh said...

Hey, I stumbled on Bloodletting during my cybersurfing. Margaret Atwood must be so pleased that her mentee is proving his worth. I wonder how Lam manage to get Atwood to mentor him. If I can have a famous author as mentor, I'd like to have Amy Tan, Arundhati Roy, Andrea Levy, or Pearl S. Buck (if she was still alive).

Sharon, I bet you'd like Annie Proulx or Atwood to be your mentor.

bibliobibuli said...

i'd be terrified of either of them, lydia!!!

more terrified of annie proulx though.

Lotus Reads said...

Although I am happy for Lam, I am surprised his book won such a coveted prize. I read it when it came out several months ago and I would never have thought it would be shortlisted for the Giller, leave alone win it! But like I stated in my post about the Giller Prize, perhaps I should re-read it.

Lotus Reads said...

The news doing the rounds is that Lam met Atwood on a cruise and showed her parts of his manuscript. Sharon you need to find out where Atwood is holidaying next! ;)

Argus Lou said...

Bib & Lydia, if I had Paul Auster as my mentor, I'd waste time swimming in his dark pools of eyes and his beautiful blonde writer-wife would hold me down till I drown.

If I had Chuck Palahniuk as my mentor, I'd be terrified I had used too many redundant/boring words, and then he'd ask to look under the hood of my car instead for some entertainment. How?

The Angry Medic said...

spot on, Sharon. if I stumbled on Marge Atwood or Annie Proulx, I'd prolly mumble my way through (not that I don't do that everyday anyway, sadly).

And hey. What's with the doctor-bashing? Just cos we study enough to drive ourselves insane doesn't mean we kan't shpel and rite good ohkay.

Victor Lam is my new hero. If I survive med school, that is. Especially the one I'm in. *gulp*

Argus Lou said...

Angry Medic, I love your mug shot! When I've time, I must visit your blog - so I can procrastinate writing a novel or short stories, ya?

Mmm, Boctor Dashing could be the name of a new superhero medico.

bibliobibuli said...

lotus reads - just went and read your very interesting comments on the giller which i will link. met on a cruise? how great!

argus lou - i would probably be the same if paul auster were a mentor. too tasty.

angry medic - oh you are just too handsome! you would never be able to remain incognito if you wrote a novel with those film-star looks.

Eliza said...

Hi Sharon, interesting in that this is the second time that I come across a book on ER. In Joan Didion's book, she found a lot of useful material in a non-fiction title written by a doctor, on emergency room, the ER environment, procedures. Anyway, am still waiting for an economist to make economics hot enough for movies, TV shows and novels to be made!