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Paperbacks: Passage, by John David Morley

This sweeping but pacey "palimpsest" of a novel wraps up the past of an entire hemisphere in one mesmerising voice.

Enlisting the magic-realist conceit of an immortal narrator, Morley sends deathless Pablito from Lisbon to the pillaged Indies and so, via plantation Brazil, Civil War-era New Orleans, boom-town Chicago and theme-park Las Vegas, through 500 years of colourful American history. If slavery and plunder give a tragic bass-line to the wizened hero's "ever-growing backlog of the past", the dash and drive of his yarn make this an epic that uplifts.