So, I wrote something on light novels a while back. I basically explained what they were and gave some examples. But I’ve been thinking a little more about it. I responded to a friend’s question about translated books and said the last thing I read was a manga book. At the time, it was, but I’ve since read a light novel.
Whenever I see people talking about translated fiction, I always wonder why light novels are never on people’s lists. We all already class manga, manhwa, manhua as translated books. We also talk about more literary translated fiction like Murakami. I see a lot of translated crime fiction too. I’d love to see more translated romances and fantasy from all countries. But I’m going to focus on Japanese and light novels today.
So, a light novel, as I’ve said before, is a small illustrated novel. They usually have a very manga style story. Sometimes they’re spin-offs of manga series. Sometimes they get manga or dramas based off of the novels. You’ll usually find them in the manga section of the book shop, but these are mostly text with the odd illustration.
Now, light novels aren’t translated as often as manga. And unlike with manga, fan translations of less popular series can sometimes read a little funny. Japanese is so different from English. So sometimes translating it can be a toss between being really faithful or having it read smoothly.
The published light novels do generally hit the right note with that, so they are just as worth picking up as any manga or literary translated fiction.
So why aren’t more people picking up these books for their translated fiction reading lists and things?
For one thing, people might not know much about them. Or it could be that these aren’t considered serious books. Personally, I think they’re a great thing to pick up. They are short, quick reads. You get to see pretty illustrations, and these do often tend to be fun plotlines like you’ll see in manga.
If you want something easy to read and you enjoy manga, why not try light novels too? If you already read both fiction and manga, then these are the perfect blend. The written word is a wonderful thing, after all.
We also do have some similar content from other East Asian countries coming out. Well, specifically Chinese. I can’t talk much about Chinese novels, but I do know that we’re getting the MXTX novels in English. Obviously, these are danmei, the Chinese equivalent of BL novels. These aren’t illustrated or anything, as far as I know. But they have had drama and anime adaptations, and with the type of story, they are? These aren’t the usual type of novel that gets translated. A manga and light novel publisher – Seven Seas – is publishing them.
I think with the popularity of The Untamed, plenty of people are going to pick these up. And I’m hoping it’ll lead them into looking at the publisher and finding more light novels. Light novels are so underrated, and I want to see more people who love and promote translated fiction picking them up.
Light novels are normal novels, often for teenagers but some with more adult themes. They’re just illustrated too, and I think we could all appreciate them a little more.