REVIEW by Sarah Coles

NWR Issue 99

The Ninjas

by Jane Yeh

Jane Yeh’s The Ninjas is as unsettling and funny as its cover image by Jing Wei, ‘Foul Play’, affectionately known to the author as piñata autopsy. One is tempted to gobble down the exquisite poems one after another and yet these apparent confections mask a loneliness that creeps up the back of the neck. It is unusual to find such humour and sadness in one place; the nearest comparison might be short-story writer Lydia Davis whose tiny narratives delight with their lightness and clean phrases while hinting at vast, dark worlds beneath the surface.

One may not guess that Yeh is American (although there are peppered hints of accent) because the references to British places and popular culture are cited with the warmth and naturalness of a native. Yeh is now resident in the UK and so it is remarkable how Britishly deadpan is her humour. Having said that, there is something vaguely European about her love for the absurd, and the clarity of her language would be at home within a haiku. She is difficult to pin down, which makes her all the more fascinating...

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previous review: A Hunger Artist and Other Stories
next review: A Radiance


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