Student Experience Office

 

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Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

Synopsis:

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures is a collection of short stories that follows four young medical students and physicians – Ming, Fitz, Sri and Chen – through their journeys, from med school applications to residency.  It gives an insightful account of what it means to be a doctor, based on Lam’s own experiences as an emergency room physician.  The series of 12 stories explores the characters’ relationships with each other, their patients, and their careers. The stories range from an exciting account of running a “code blue” in the emergency room, to a tale of one man’s mission to uncover the truth about his grandfather’s mysterious life. Although the stories function as standalone narratives, Lam has elegantly woven them together through the relationships and shared experiences of the characters.

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada's richest and most prestigious literary award, on November 7, 2006. He is the youngest writer, and the only first-time author, to win it. Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures was also a finalist for The Story Prize in 2008.

About the Author:

Vincent Lam was born in 1974 in London, Ont., into a family from the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. Four years later, they moved to Ottawa where he was raised on stories told by his father and the works of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and developed aspirations to become a writer. Acknowledging that he hadn’t seen enough of the world to create great literary works, Lam enrolled in medical school at the University of Toronto, hoping it would provide real-life experience and a wealth of rich material.

His plan proved to be a very good one.It was while working as a doctor aboard an Arctic cruise that Lam had a chance encounter with renowned author Margaret Atwood. She agreed to read his short stories, and later sent him an email announcing “Congratulations. You can write.” Atwood mentored the young author, and was instrumental in bringing Lam to his publisher, Doubleday Canada.

While crafting his debut collection of short stories, Lam worked in the emergency room at Toronto East General Hospital and helped fight the 2003 SARS outbreak. “An emergency physician is often in the centre of a storm of tensions and drama,” he says. “We work in a world that is both medical and personal, where the stakes are high and events are unpredictable. As a doctor, I respond to the world around me, and act within that world. As a writer, I do something fresh and new on the page.”