“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 Bookshop
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).