This dystopian refugee story is both timely and relevant. Polly time travels to become an indentured servant in the future to save her boyfriend's life. When she arrives years later then expected, she is alone, confused and confounded by her new time and the never ending bureaucracy. Because of her lack of citizenship and status in this new world, she is constantly struggling to pay off her debts and to find her place in the unfamiliar world. One really gets the feeling of migration and displacement as Polly navigates her circumstances. For fans of Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West.— Audrey H.
July 2018 Indie Next List
“Polly signs on as a bondswoman with a time travel company to save the life of her boyfriend, Frank. They plan to meet in the future, but Polly is off by five years and arrives disoriented, vulnerable, and alone, with Frank nowhere to be found. This imagined future is as disorienting to the reader as it is to Polly, as Lim leaves us with no hints about who to trust and no understanding of societal rules. I was absolutely blown away by the layered depths of Lim’s story. The ending left me reeling and wanting more, and my mind keeps returning to the way Lim describes the power of time to change a person. How many lives do we live in the course of one lifetime?”
— Susan Scott, Secret Garden, ,
AN INDIE NEXT PICK!
A “Best Book of 2018” —Real Simple
“Lim’s steady prose and deft character development ensured that I was hooked on Polly’s story from beginning to end. [F]ull of fascinating social commentary on class differences, racism and sexism...it’s easy to fall into this novel and become emotionally involved in Polly’s journey and her search to find the people she loves.” —Los Angeles Times
In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Station Eleven, a sweeping literary love story about two people who are at once mere weeks and many years apart.
America is in the grip of a deadly flu pandemic. When Frank catches the virus, his girlfriend Polly will do whatever it takes to save him, even if it means risking everything. 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.
An Ocean of Minutes is a gorgeous and heartbreaking story about the endurance and complexity of human relationships and the cost of holding onto the past—and the price of letting it go.
About the Author
Thea Lim’s writing has appeared in publications including the Southampton Review, the Guardian, The Millions, Salon, and others. She has an MFA from the University of Houston, and she has received multiple awards and fellowships for her work, including artists’ grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. She grew up in Singapore and now lives in Toronto with her family.
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.
Lim’s enthralling novel succeeds on every level: as a love story, an imaginative thriller, and a dystopian narrative.
One of "10 Prescient new feminist dystopias to read after THE HANDMAID'S TALE."
An Ocean of Minutes is an astute novel. Using familiar speculative fiction tropes, Lim takes a love story and turns it around, ending up with a tale of self-possession and survival.
Lim’s steady prose and deft character development ensured that I was hooked on Polly’s story from beginning to end. [F]ull of fascinating social commentary on class differences, racism and sexism….it’s easy to fall into this novel and become emotionally involved in Polly’s journey and her search to find the people she loves.