Born A Crime

Born A Crime

Stories From A South African Childhood

Book - 2016
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"The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man's coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed,"
Noah's path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, at the time such a union was punishable by five years in prison. As he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist, his mother is determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life. With an incisive wit and unflinching honesty, Noah weaves together a moving yet searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time.
Publisher: New York :, Spiegel & Grau,, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780399588174
Characteristics: 288 pages ; 25 cm


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Sep 16, 2017

This book was hilarious. I loved it. You can read my full take on it at:

Sep 16, 2017

"Born a Crime" is a compelling, page-turning memoir, but how Noah turned to comedy as a career is never explored. His mother, though, has an in-depth portrayal. Her philosophy of life and her depth of faith is amazing. Noah also shares insights into his younger self, his family, and his culture. Since events are not told chronologically, the reader may sometimes get confused with what is happening when. Some chapters are abrupt but others are longer and more developed. Overall, though, his writing is humorous and sensitive subjects are handled skillfully.

Sep 15, 2017

Trevor’s spirit is poured carefully into a story of unfiltered truth, comedic genius, and uncanny empathy. It educates on the atrocities of apartheid and how burdens doubled by his poverty and cultural ambiguity served as starter fluid for a fire within that is as relentless as it is also creatively appealing to the forward thinker. One of my favorite quotes is, “it’s easier to be insider as outsider than it is to be outsider as an insider” because it does well in describing the place from which Trevor’s cultural sensitivity and empathy were spawn. It also iteraites the very fact that racism is an artificial and divisive construct.

There is practically no simpler way to explain Noah’s love for his mother than by saying it is deep and abiding. As the starring character Noah’s mother is the quintessential superhero who while dealing with a host of foes (Trevor included) maintains the wherewithal to [literally] love fearlessly and courageously.

Noah’s story calls the reader to a place of deep reflection on matters of the heart while also challenging one to consider the quality of self awareness. What I ended up taking from the book was a deepened understanding of what it means to be a "cultural chameleon" and what it means to choose to see the goodness in people in moments their absolute highest devilry. I found Trevor's giftedness in compassion and empathy to have a distinct recalibrating quality.

Sep 09, 2017

Trevor Noah was an anomaly and outsider as a mixed-race child in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. His mother was a force of nature, an outsider in her own way, a believer in tough love, but with a big, big heart.

Wow. I’ve heard him interviewed and wanted to read his stories. What contradictions he lived with and has seemingly thrived from none the less. Inspiring. Loved the stories where his knowledge of languages was a huge benefit.

TechLibrarian Aug 26, 2017

Laugh out loud funny, but also thoughtful, educative, and sad.

Aug 07, 2017

Enjoyed reading his story. Great hussle story, everybody's got one.
As a child my dad had to pick up dried buffalo turds in North Dakota in order
to have fuel to burn in the iron stove of the familys mud turf house with a dirt floor~1925 in the good ole USA.

Aug 06, 2017

Having heard Trevor Noah on NPR programs, I was interested in reading this book. It was a mind opening experience. His writing style is in the great tradition of storytelling, where one essay/chapter builds the foundation information to make the next ones rich in background material and yet each one is a jewel in itself.

Jul 19, 2017

I entered this with no knowledge of Noah's life prior to The Daily Show. His life story (what is presented on page) was a fascinating story pf tragic struggle and triumph. I was hoping for humor and was delighted with the insight into life under Apartheid. In my opinion it could have been written / edited better - but this was all about the message: that language, decency and common experiences should unite and the dangers of racial segregation. If you're a white American, please consider reading Ta-Nehisi Coates letter "Between the World and Me" to compliment Noah's work.

Jul 15, 2017

As fans of Trevor Noah, reading his autobiography was insightful, shocking and overall delightfully funny. The polished host of the Daily Show and fluid stand up comic we see today was forged by a childhood I personally could not imagine until reading his accounts of it for myself. Not only did Mr. Noah survive, he flourished. I've recommended this book to everyone I know who is an avid reader. Please read it. Even if you are not, you will enjoy this book.

Jul 12, 2017

A lot is packed into these pages. Intimate glimpse of how life can be physically impoverished but rich in family and cultural traditions. Noah gives us a rich portrait of his mother - determined, emboldened by an unwavering belief in God, hard working, hard on her son who she feels she must harden because the world in hard. Noah's tales of life under apartheid and the lunacy of its laws and rules made me consider what kinds of systemic discrimination Blacks have faced in our country as well. And, there is the young life of Trevor Noah, irreverent, risk taking, impetuous, smart and because of his mixed race and upbringing, often the outsider. I liked this book a lot and the pages just whipped by.

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Apr 04, 2017

wrtrchk thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Feb 21, 2017

When Trevor Noah was born in South Africa in 1984, his existence was literally illegal, proof that his black, Xhosa mother and his white, Swiss-German father had violated the Immorality Act of 1927, one of the many laws defining the system known as apartheid. The crime carried a punishment of four to five years in prison, and mixed race children were often seized and placed in state-run orphanages. But Noah’s mother was determined and clever, and she managed to hold onto her son, refusing to flee her home country in order to raise him. But it made his childhood complicated, even after apartheid officially ended in 1994. Racial hierarchies and inequities persisted, and despite receiving a good education, his upbringing was anything but easy. In a series of essays, Born a Crime chronicles Noah’s experience growing up under apartheid and its aftermath.


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Feb 21, 2017

The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.


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