Good Reading : June 2010
18 goodreading ı JUNE 2010 Standing next to Vincent Lam you'd be forgiven for feeling a bit inadequate. Lots of us pat ourselves on the back just for achieving a life/work balance (as well we should).Vincent has achieved a balance between two demanding careers and a family life. He and his wife are both doctors at a city hospital. They have two small children. And Vincent is a published writer -- not only that, he's won Canada's most prestigious literary award, the Giller Prize, for his first novel, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures. You might expect such an accomplished person to display signs of haughtiness.You won't find any in this man.When I meet him at a café in Toronto, Canada, for our interview, he's wearing shorts and a T-shirt. He has round, wire-framed glasses and floppy black hair. He looks boyish, and his manner is anything but condescending. It's easy to forget his incredible accomplishments -- until he starts talking. The first person to notice that Vincent was a gifted writer in addition to being a talented doctor was perhaps Canada's most famous living author: Margaret Atwood. The two were on an Arctic cruise ship together, Atwood as the ship's writer-in-residence, and Lam as the ship's doctor. 'I didn't tell her for the duration of the trip that I was trying to write a book -- I mean, what could be worse for poor Margaret than to be stuck on a ship and the ship doctor is an aspiring writer? I mean, a complete disaster for her!' So Vincent waited until the last day before asking Atwood if she would read his manuscript. She looked him in the eye and said, 'All right. I can look at it. But you have to tell me what you want.You have to tell me whether you want me simply to say something nice, or whether you want the truth.' Vincent asked for the truth, and he got it: an email saying, in capital letters: author profile Vincent Lam complementary medicine VINCENT LAM talks to SARAH MINNS about the similarities between his dual careers: medicine and writing.