Toronto-based author Vincent Lam, son of Chinese immigrants, has won the Giller Prize, Canada's richest and most prestigious literary award, for his book of linked short stories, "Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures".
The prize, worth 40,000 Canadian dollars (36,000 U.S. dollars), was handed out at a gala in Toronto Tuesday evening.
Lam, 32, who is an emergency room physician as well as a writer, said he was "astonished" by the win.
"Luck is not what it seems and most of it falls into the category of divine blessing or people who have been kind to you," he said in speech at the ceremony.
"Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures" is about medical students and young doctors, a world Lam was immersed in when he started writing the book.
The son of Chinese immigrants from Vietnam, Lam said he wanted to be a writer before he decided on becoming a doctor.
"I think I was about 14 or 15 years old and I sat down to write at that point and suddenly had the horrible realization that I had nothing whatsoever to write about ... so I thought I should probably go out into the world and learn something about it before trying to write about it," he said.
"Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures" is Lam's first book of fiction. His debut novel is due out in 2007.
The Giller prize was created in 1994 by businessman Jack Rabinovitch in honor of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller. The jury members for this year's Prize were former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, short story writer Alice Munro and novelist Michael Winter.