BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Murakami T: The T-Shirts I Love by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel [in Shelf Awareness]

“Objects just seem to collect me, of their own volition,” insists Haruki Murakami (First Person Singular): LPs, books, magazine clippings, pencil stubs, and, of course, T-shirts. Murakami T might detour from his global bestsellers, but it’s a delightful glimpse into iconic Murakami through his casual wardrobe. “Now that I’ve lived this long, and find myself with enough T-shirts to write a whole book about them, frankly it seems kind of scary,” he muses. Murakami T originated as a series of essays for the Japanese men’s magazine Popeye. Each essay loosely groups the shirts by theme, enhanced here with photographs of the featured choices. The collection’s first photo proves especially memorable – a yellow T emblazoned with “Tony” Takitani House D that inspired a short story and film.

Not every shirt engenders such long life. Some are contemplative: “Meaning Unknown.” Some are just for fun: “Whiskey.” Some are comically self-referential: “Keep Calm and Read Murakami.” Some underscore his well-known passions for music – “Record Stores Are a Blast” – and running – “Can’t Help Thinking About a Nice Cold Beer.” Interwoven throughout are sly, revealing comments about what he’ll actually wear: no Ivy League names, cute animals, Superman and Batman logos; yes to no-images-but-has-random-writing, Volkswagen, plain. An invitingly chatty ending interview with writer Kunichi Nomura spotlights additional Ts left out of essays, including a most striking “DONALD ERES UN PENDEJO,” a gift from fellow author Paul Theroux.

Murakami is both a savvy consumer, especially of international thrift stores, and an entertaining guide through personal and pop culture history. Translated by Philip Gabriel, every page is a whimsical discovery, especially satisfying for voyeuristic groupies.

Discover: Haruki Murakami takes a charming break from his substantial literary bestsellers to chat captivatingly about his substantial T-shirt collection.

Review: “Biography & Memoir,” Shelf Awareness, December 14, 2021

Readers: Adult

Published: 2020 (Japan), 2021 (United States)

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