A shortlisted finalist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the ALA 2019 Reading List for Science Fiction
“Thea Lim’s An Ocean of Minutes is that rare thing—a speculative novel that is as heartfelt as it is philosophical. In lucid prose, Lim lays bare the complexities of migration and displacement, while offering a clear-eyed meditation on the elusive nature of human devotion.” —Esi Edugyan, Man Booker Prize Finalist and author of Washington Black
“Lim paints a strange and unfamiliar world with her novel, full of fascinating social commentary on class differences, racism, and sexism.” —The Los Angeles Times
In September 1981, Polly and Frank arrive at the time travel terminal at Houston Intercontinental Airport. One will travel, and one will stay.
America is in the grip of a deadly flu pandemic. Frank has caught the virus and Polly will do whatever it takes to save him, even if it means risking everything. So she agrees to a radical plan—time travel has been invented in the future to thwart the virus. If she signs up for a one-way-trip into the future to work as a bonded laborer, the company will pay for the life-saving treatment Frank needs. Polly promises to meet Frank again in Galveston, Texas, where she will arrive in twelve years.
But when Polly is re-routed an extra five years into the future, Frank is nowhere to be found. Alone in a changed and divided America, with no status and no money, Polly must navigate a new life and find a way to locate Frank, to discover if he is alive, and if their love has endured. “Lim’s enthralling novel succeeds on every level: as a love story, an imaginative thriller, and a dystopian narrative” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
About the Author
Thea Lim’s writing has been published by Granta, The Paris Review, The Guardian, Salon, The Globe and Mail, The Southampton Review and others. She holds an MFA from the University of Houston and previously served as nonfiction editor at Gulf Coast. She grew up in Singapore and lives in Toronto, where she is a professor of creative writing.
A strikingly imaginative time-travel story unlike anything I’ve ever read, rich with pinpoint emotional insight and fierce, vivid observations about a future that’s already our past. — Elan Mastai, author of the bestselling ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS
An Ocean of Minutes is a time machine into the future of this moment. Gripping and graceful, it's dystopian love story as told by a visionary. Thea Lim's novel reads like the birth of a legend. — Mat Johnson, award-winning author of PYM and LOVING DAY
Amidst the breathtaking world Thea Lim has created in An Ocean of Minutes is a profound meditation on the inhumanity of class and the limits of love. It takes immense talent to render cruelty both accurately and with honest beauty—Lim has pulled it off. This is a story about the malleability of time, but at its core lives something timeless. — Omar El Akkad, author of AMERICAN WAR
An Ocean of Minutes is a buoyant, compelling tale ranging from the everyday beauty of falling in love to a frightening vision of a dystopian present day. Ms. Lim's imagination is boundless and dynamic. — Jennie Melamed, author of GATHER THE DAUGHTERS
[T]he novel oscillates between the present and future—a jarring juxtaposition that's equally touching and heartbreaking… Lim's writing shines brightest when she's ruminating on time, memory, and love... A beautiful debut exploring how time, love, and sacrifice are never what they seem to be. — Kirkus