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By Vincent Lam

“Direct in style, unsparing though compassionate in observation, subtle in emotion, and occasionally gruesome in humor, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures follows four medical students from widely different backgrounds as their stories intertwine, as their illusions shatter, and as the meanings of many lives expand around them. The good news is that doctors are human beings. The bad news is that doctors are human beings. The other good news is that this book marks a stunning debut.”
-Margaret Atwood, introducing Vincent Lam at the Giller Prize ceremony


Lam_Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

With their scalpel-sharp prose and unflinching gaze, the stories in Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures introduce a powerful new voice in Canadian fiction. In Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, Vincent Lam holds in delicate and skillful tension black humour, investigations of both common and extraordinary moral dilemmas, and a sometimes shockingly realistic and matter-of-fact portrait of today’s medical profession. It is an astonishing literary debut, a collection of mature and intricate stories connected through the relationships that develop among a group of young doctors as they move from the challenges of med school to the intense world of emergency rooms, evac missions, and terrifying new viruses.

“This is one of the most eagerly awaited debut fiction titles I can remember.”
-Bookseller cited on Publishers Weekly. “Winter 2008 Galleys to Grab.”

“Vincent Lam illuminates where strength and resilience reside when body and soul are tested by illness. This artfully crafted, deeply moving, and profoundly intelligent book is a remarkable debut of a new voice in medical literature.”
-Jerome Groopman, Harvard Medical School and author of How Doctors Think

“[A] masterly debut. . . incisive, clear prose as faultless as a carefully stitched suture.”
Guardian Books

“fresh and sparkling…almost every story here has the compulsive what-next charge of true drama beautifully carried by Lam’s clear, understated, confident prose”
Sunday Times

“There’s no reason why Bloodletting… shouldn’t become as big a hit in this country as it has been in Canada. Simply sit back, relax and enjoy the effortless charm of Lam’s storytelling. Scotsman Scalpel sharp, as cool and polished as the steel of the mortuary table.”
Financial Times

“With four distinct narrative threads that mingle, diverge and ultimately come together, Bloodletting is a swift, dynamic read. From story to story, Lam unveils his characters’ lives in careful ellipses, leaving clues like puzzle pieces to twist this way and that, each detail eventually dovetailing to form a picture. . . What makes Bloodletting so remarkable is its depth. The stories are entertaining on their own, but if you delve more deeply, you’ll find human lessons sketched out with subtlety. . . Lam entertains and educates with fluidity and style, and that just might be a miraculous cure of the literary kind.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“[Lam provides] an insider’s view of his field, replete with the stark juxtapositions — notably the privilege of the treater with the powerlessness of the treated — and the moral hazards that characterize the profession. Some of the best stories in Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures read like journalistic dispatches from the medical front lines, with careful psychological characterization added. As such, Lam’s book represents a promising demonstration of fiction’s unique power: to bring the news that stays news, in Ezra Pound’s formulation, and to allow the reader to see through the eyes of those who experience events firsthand.”
The New York Times Book Review

“In this collection, Lam deftly illuminates the line physician and patient must walk together–hope and health on one side, cynicism and sickness on the other. We see in cold light what is at risk when the balance slips too far in either direction. In the end, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures asks how much of death’s burden should rest on the shoulders of those we ask to fight against it.”
Washington Post

“A searing, perfectly paced set of linked stories that explores the careers and relationships of four Toronto doctors. . . Tender insight into the fascinating emotional and social implications of a career that is, inherently, so much more than a job.”
-Kirkus (Starred review)

“Vincent Lam…humanizes the [medical] profession, each character a portrait of the personalities and rich internal
conflicts prevalent in the field.”
-Kirkus (First Fiction Spotlight)

“Winner of Canada’s Giller Prize, Lam puts all the sex, and death and sleep deprivation crucial to any hospital drama in his debut story collection about doctors in the making. Thankfully Lam, an emergency room physician, looks beyond blood and guts to examine the conflicted hearts and minds of the four medical students sleepwalking their way through the required tests, dissections and all-night emergency room shifts….The stories’ quiet strength lies….in Lam’s portrayal of the flawed humans behind the surgical masks. This collection made a big splash in Canada, and, as Weinstein Books’ first title, is poised to do the same in the U.S.”
Publishers Weekly (Starred review)

“Vincent Lam dissects the lives and loves of four medical students in Toronto with all the objectivity and humanity befitting his training as an emergency physician. . . Lam takes us through the moral dilemmas of today’s medical profession with dark humor but also with tenderness for the weak spots of each of the doctors.”

“It’s hard not to compare stories about doctors’ overlapping lives, loves, and patients to Grey’s Anatomy, but Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures cuts deeper in the way only books can — and without any McNicknames or supply-closet hookups.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Lam’s writing is both minimalist and elegant, like a taut line of stitches perfectly placed.”
Seattle Times

“Dr. Lam, whose mentors include the author Margaret Atwood, has enough talent to sculpture a story considerably more nuanced than the usual thinly disguised autobiography doctors like to call fiction. Presumably much of the book is, in fact, memoir, but the joints between the imagined and the recalled are seamless, and the fiction does its job of turning mirror into magnifying glass.”
The New York Times

“This is a rigorously balanced assessment of the achievements and limitations of modern medicine, as well as an atlas of suffering, survival and failure. Emotionally complex and layered, with a preternaturally surefooted negotiation of the human mind and heart, Lam’s insanely gripping book is also illuminated by shafts of radiant, beautiful prose. Like all great fiction, it is both the absolute truth and a vehicle for taking us to a place we’ve never been before. Read it.”
TIME Magazine

“The book reads like inside information, as if Lam is telling us what other doctors wish he wouldn’t.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

“[A] tender, grisly, sad, funny, illuminating book.”

“Lam, a Toronto emergency physician, knows his medical lingo, but what’s so impressive about his debut is that you need never consult the glossary in the back–he’s expertly woven his learning into stories that are emotionally precise, affecting, and unsentimental. . . .No ER episode has ever been as archly funny as ‘Take All of Murphy,’ in which a group of med students unite over a cadaver dissection and come apart as half of their assigned head goes missing. Even the plots that do seem perfect for Very Special Episodes–such as “Contact Tracing,” in which two doctors who once pursued the same woman are quarantined for SARS–are handled with a delicacy and depth that rivals Lam’s mentor, Margaret Atwood. ”
Washington City Paper

“Lam’s prose is as specific and unsentimental as a medical chart, but it works.”
Tampa Tribune

“Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures radiates the confidence you expect from a man whose other job is to make stalled hearts start. . . Here, even the medical failures come to life, vividly.”
The Globe and Mail

“Action packed and insightful. . . This is a good addition to any fiction collection.”
Library Journal

“‘Gray’s Anatomy’ for the literary set.”
American Way

“Lam creates vivid characters and circumstances that satiate our morbid curiosities about medicine, from med school corpse dissection to gruesome complications on the maternity ward. While every physician must conclude his or her career with hundreds of stories about misfit patients and strange illnesses, Lam successfully creates medi-fictions that probe philosophical questions, fears and uncertainties not found in textbooks.”
Toronto Star

“For those of us struggling with one career, it’s always unsettling to learn about someone who has found the talent, and time, to master two.”
The Montreal Gazette

“In reviewing this debut collection of linked collection of stories. . .am I putting my own health at risk? Thankfully no, for two reasons: doctors can’t refuse assistance to arsonists, drug dealers, or even book reviewer; and more importantly, the book is very good.”
Quill & Quire

“If you want to know what a person must go through to become a practicing physician in a Canadian hospital, reading this riveting collection will give you a better picture than if you pored over a truckload of treatises on public health.”
Calgary Herald

“How far does a physician’s responsibility to the patient and society extend? Lam deals with the complex issues of duty and conscience … [and] demonstrates a surgical use of wit to create realistic characters whose foibles are gradually exposed.”
Winnipeg Free Press


Doubleday Canada, Canada, January 2006

Weinstein Books, US, September 2007

Fourth Estate, UK, Spring 2008

Denoël, France

Destino, Spain

Mondadori, Italy

De Geus, Netherlands

Locus, Taiwan

Shueisha, Japan

Viche, Korea


Winner of the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Shortlisted for the 2007 Danuta Gleed Literary Award

Shortlisted for the 2007 Toronto Book Award

Shortlisted for the 2007 Libris Award

#1 National Bestseller

Other Books by Vincent Lam