Born a Crime (Trevor Noah)

crime

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humour and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

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I recently listened to Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, which is read by the author, Trevor Noah. His narration is smooth and his accent enchanting.

I found this collection of essays to be thoroughly engrossing. They completely changed my perspective of who Noah is, which was formed by admittedly minimal viewing of The Daily Show, which he currently hosts. Noah isn’t uptight the way I imagined him to be. Nor is he the shining example of his neighbourhood, to have risen out of poverty and oppression in Apartheid South Africa and made it big in America. Or if he is, he isn’t ‘the golden child’.

Noah was one naughty kid and I bet he still is a bucket full of trouble (and laughs) as a grown man. I also had no idea that he has a comedy show and just recently learned that he was in the 2018 film Black Panther.

The description pretty much tells you everything you need to read about this book. It is a collection of stories from his childhood. It was not as heavily focused on oppression in a police state as I expected. The stories flow together so smoothly that I didn’t realize it was considered a collection of essays until I finished the audiobook and was reviewing the synopsis on Goodreads.

If you like memoirs, this is definitely one that I would recommend.

* * * * *

xx

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