1941 is a year of drama and spectacle for Americans. Joe DiMaggio’s record-breaking hitting streak enlivens the summer, and winter begins with the shock and horror of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The news from Europe is bleak, especially for the Jewish population. Joltin’ Joe, possessing a sweet swing and range in center, also has another gift: he can see the future. And he sees dark times ahead.
In her inventive novel The Powers, Valerie Sayers, in both realistic and fantastic chapters, transports the reader to an age filled with giants: Dorothy Day and Walker Evans appear beside DiMaggio. The problems they face, from Catholic antisemitism to the challenge of pacifism in the face of overwhelming evil, play out in very public media, among them the photography of Evans and the baseball of DiMaggio. At once magical and familiar, The Powers is a story of witness and moral responsibility that will, like Joe DiMaggio, find some unlikely fans.