No, not a novel composed entirely of beams of light
, although that would be awesome
While related to Manga
, light novels are actually prose, written in short paragraphs for fast reading. Light novels are very popular in Japan, chiefly among teenagers and young adults, but due to the amount of translation involved, very few
of them make their way to English-language markets. This may start to change, however, as Haruhi Suzumiya
sold better than expected, and Yen Press has created the successful strategy of marketing them to the people who read novels and not just anime/manga fans. There are also a relatively large number of translated yaoi
light novels. Due to the nature of the illustrators
, many Light Novels out at the moment are mostly Ecchi
to capitalize on their talents.
The term light novel is a misnomer. While many people believe that the word "light" in the name means the novel is short
(and they usually don't last much longer than 200 pages) or that it uses manga-style illustrations
, the truth is that this actually refers to the text inside. Modern light novels use simpler, easier to read everyday kanji as opposed to "hard" novels, which generally contain much older words which, even for Japanese readers, may necessitate keeping a dictionary on hand to understand. The closest parallel in the Western world is probably the distinction between "Modern English", "Middle English" and "Old English".
Light Novels commonly get adapted to Manga and Anime, and more often than not are promptly displaced
by said adaptations outside Japan for the reasons stated above.
Chinese-language literature has a somewhat similar phenomenon, particularly in Taiwan. Although the term "light novel" is not typically used in China for such works, for convenience they will be listed here.
Notable light novel series:
(Series marked with a * have an North American release at least in part.)
Chinese works equivalent to "light novels":