In case you ever wondered why med students say so little about
what they’re doing, Vincent Lam tells us in this remarkable book,
“Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures”.
He does it without seeming to be telling tales out of school,even
though he studied medicine in Toronto and is now an emergency doctor in
The book links short stories with the same cast of characters, some
Western,some Chinese. We learn vividly how they practise to become
surgeons. There are realistic sketches of patients in emergency, in
hospital, in police care, on a plane, when pressure and sometimes errors
in judgment prove fatal. There is an underlying sympathy for both
patients and doctors which draws the reader into the predicaments faced
in everyday medicare – predicaments we don’t always understand when all
we read in the daily paper are complaints about waiting lines.
Dr.Lam is a professional (physician) with a second string to his
bow. He writes vividly, and the book moves with breathtaking speed,much
as medicine often does. It is a great Giller prize, as well as great
credit to an expatriate Chinese from Vietnam who has made his home so
totally in Canada.
Review by Anne McDougall