Shortlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize
An unforgettable love story of two people who are at once mere weeks and many years apart, for readers of Station Eleven.
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; if she signs up for a one-way trip into the future to work as a bonded labourer, 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 terrifying new world to find Frank, to discover if he is alive, and to see if their love has endured.
An Ocean of Minutes is a gorgeous, devastating novel about courage, yearning, the cost of holding onto the past--and the price of letting it go.
THEA LIM's writing has been published by the Southampton Review, the Guardian, Salon, the Millions, Bitch magazine, Utne Reader, and others, and she has received multiple awards and fellowships for her work. She holds an MFA from the University of Houston and she previously served as nonfiction editor at Gulf Coast.
Advance praise for AN OCEAN OF MINUTES:
A Chatelaine "18 Buzzy Books Everyone Will Be Talking About This Summer" selection
One of Maclean's "15 books you should read this summer"
One of cbc.ca’s "8 Canadian books we can’t wait to read in June" selection
A Loan Stars Top 10 pick by Canadian librarians for June 2018
One of cbc.ca’s “8 Canadian speculative fiction reads to check out this summer”
One of Entertainment Weekly's "10 prescient feminist dystopias to read after The Handmaid's Tale"
One of Bustle’s 11 New Books To Read When It's Way Too Hot To Go Outside
“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 offers that rare combination of a provocative speculative setting, masterfully elegant writing, and a story that moves and haunts long after the last page. Thea Lim is an enormously talented writer.” —David Chariandy, author of Brother and Soucouyant
“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 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. . . . Reads like the birth of a legend.” —Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day and Pym
"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. . . . A truly unique story." —Jennie Melamed, author of Gather the Daughters
"Lim takes the lovers-separated-by-time narrative further than any other writer I’ve read, exploring class divisions, migrant workers, racism, climate change, and corporate psychopathy. A searing indictment of so much of what presently ails us, Lim’s is a story for our time." —LitHub
"The 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
"Lim’s enthralling novel succeeds on every level: as a love story, an imaginative thriller, and a dystopian narrative." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The premise Lim sets up here allows for the most multifaceted examination of time’s value. Time is Polly and Frank’s shared past and the promise of a shared future…The tragedy that the people we love don’t get to live forever is the subject of some of our oldest stories. And also, it seems, our stories of the future.” —The Globe and Mail
“The clear-eyed, evocative writing here is reminiscent of Margaret Atwood, and anyone familiar with The Handmaid’s Tale will find resonance in these pages. Similarly, Lim draws on the New CanLit, tapping into its energetic focus on social justice, using fiction to probe our contemporary reality — in all its staggering inequality. . . . [Lim] comes into her own here, with prose that’s elegant and haunting, somehow managing to be both unsentimental and deeply moving at the same time. A devastating debut.” —Toronto Star
“Thea Lim’s beautiful debut novel . . . is a deep dive into personal longing, political turmoil and time travel. . . . A heartbreaking page turner that delves into issues of race, class, labour and how to live with the passage of time.” —NOW magazine
“There’s so much going on this book, including passages of wondrous prose and attempts to answer the question of where love goes when it’s over. . . . . [I] was so impressed by the extent of the allegory, about race and gender, migration, capitalism, environmental and the perilous balance of so much that we take for granted. . . . I loved this book, and how it turns another time into another country, but doesn’t it always seem that way? So far away, and yesterday, and it’s as though you could almost get back there, and you nearly know the way.” –Kerry Clare, on her blog Pickle Me This
“Like the best dystopian worlds, Thea Lim’s debut resonates with the present. . . . There are echoes of . . . Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife [in] Lim’s examination of love’s durability through crisis and time. . . . An Ocean of Minutes is a timely novel that brings a fresh perspective on the complex subjects of migration and displacement that plague our world today.” —The Irish Times
“Lim's remarkable debut delves into immigration and the ravages of time, yet without ever losing sight of the love story at its bittersweet heart. . . . [Lim has] created that rare thing in modern fiction - a truly compelling love story, between two people you cannot help but be emotionally invested in.” —The Straits Times (Singapore)
“Love can cross oceans, but can it transcend time? . . . Soulmates, survival and sacrifice are interwoven in this poignant, heartrending tale.” —Canadian Living
"The love story—more precisely, Toronto-based Lim’s exquisite examination of the soul-saving illusions of love—that unspools as Polly searches for Frank is more than strong enough to carry this absorbing debut." —Maclean's
"A story of loss and longing. . . . An unusual investigation on the impact of being separated from the people you love [that is] set in a past that could be our future.” —Winnipeg Free Press
“Heartbreakingly human.” —Hello Giggles
“I will never forget Polly and Frank and the way their story had me transfixed…There’s such an urgency to Polly’s story once she gets to the future and there are definite parallels to the migrant/refugee experience. I can’t wait for more people to read this book.” —Book Riot
"The prose is gorgeous. . . . Lim’s novel explores love’s vitality in a world where time creates as many wounds as it heals." --THIS magazine