Born A Crime

Born A Crime

Stories From A South African Childhood

Book - 2016
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"Trevor Noahs 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 Africas 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 mans relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious motherhis teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life"
Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780399588174
Characteristics: 288 pages ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

Trevor Noahs unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth

Noah's humor suffuses this memoir of his life in South Africa.

From the critics

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Mar 21, 2018

Trevor Noah, an up-and-comer in the world of entertainment, has shown that he is a man of many trades, from comedian, to talk show host, to professional DJ, and now author. Noah's memoir perfectly combines his talent for comedy with his electrifying childhood, leading to chapter after chapter of pure enjoyment for the reader. Furthermore, Noah keeps the reader thinking with deep insights on the infrastructure of Apartheid, and the how it managed to bring an entire society to its knees. This high level of contemplation is what makes the comedy so much sweeter.

JCLChrisK Mar 21, 2018

Highly engaging and entertaining, which is unsurprising given the author is a professional comedian and entertainer. Less expected is the insightfulness, breadth, and quality of the writing. Noah had an extraordinary childhood and he draws upon it for a wide range of personal stories, all united by his deep love and respect for his mother, who has clearly been the largest influence on his life. Highly recommended.

Mar 06, 2018

What a life! So glad I read it.

Seeing life in South Africa and the wild mix of cultures during apartheid from Trevor Noah's perspective as a child through to adulthood is fascinating.
His irreverent, yet spot on descriptions of the inconsistent and rampant racism and it's impacts on the young adults during the time after apartheid officially ended made me laugh.

We are lucky Trevor Noah's survived and became the comedian he is. I swear I heard his voice in my head as I read this!

ehbooklover Mar 03, 2018

I didn't pick this one up because I am a huge fan of Noah's. In fact, other than watching a few clips online, I am not very familiar with him or his show. I had heard great things about this book so I thought, why not give it a shot? And I'm so glad I did! His writing style is wonderfully engaging, it had me laughing out loud at times and feeling very emotional at others. An eye-opening and informative look at what it was like growing in South Africa both during and after Apartheid.

Jcheng1234 Feb 24, 2018

With wit and humor, Trevor Noah, a young comedian from South Africa, told stories of his childhood and teenage years in South Africa. During apartheid, his birth was a crime because his father was white and his mom was black. Being colored in a racist and broken world, it was hard for him to pick a side to belong. His dating in high school; CD pirating business; futile life in the “hood”; experience in the jail and his mom’s miraculous survival after being shot by his abusive stepfather were all very dramatic. One has to admire his deeply religious mom who showed him the better world and by practicing tough love saved him from poverty and violence. It is a fun and hilarious book to read!

Feb 23, 2018

Very interesting and enlightening book about Trevor Noah's early life in South Africa. Eye-opening look at apartheid and the country's slow move out of it. Most interesting to Americans is that Trevor was not considered black nor white but "colored". While very young, he could not even go outside since his appearance implicated his parents in the crime of having sexual relations. Even older, he identified as black but did not fit in anywhere. I could not help but feel sorry for him sometimes but it appears he has turned out ok so far and his mother sounds like an amazing woman.

debwalker Feb 22, 2018

Lupita Nyong’o will star in the adaptation of Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood playing Trevor Noah's mother.

Feb 22, 2018

An extraordinary life told with humour and honesty. As an "illegal" mix of white and black, looking "colored" but not of the Colored community, young Trevor was both all and none of the parts of South African society - and he had to find a way to deal with that....

Feb 17, 2018

I, along with my family, read this book during a trip to Cape Town. It is an easy ready with concise historical information on South Africa history and apartheid. I found reading this book during my visit to Cape Town a great companion to the "Lonely Planet" guide book on Cape Town.

Feb 08, 2018

This book is written in a very simplistic prose, which means I was able to eat it up and it was devoured within an afternoon. The things that I learned about South African society and the impacts of apartheid reading his account of growing up. It was many. I don't necessarily agree with Noah's opinions on everything. Nevertheless, this man has basically lived a very tough life, yet it still had it's moments of connection, love and laughter. I then passed it to my son. Everyone should read it.

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Mar 06, 2018

People thought my mom was crazy. Ice rinks and drive-ins and suburbs, these things were izinto zabelungu—the things of white people. So many black people had internalized the logic of apartheid and made it their own. Why teach a black child white things? Neighbors and relatives used to pester my mom. “Why do all this? Why show him the world when he’s never going to leave the ghetto?” “Because,” she would say, “even if he never leaves the ghetto, he will know that the ghetto is not the world. If that is all I accomplish, I’ve done enough.”

Mar 06, 2018

But the more we went to church and the longer I sat in those pews the more I learned about how Christianity works: If you’re Native American and you pray to the wolves, you’re a savage. If you’re African and you pray to your ancestors, you’re a primitive. But when white people pray to a guy who turns water into wine, well, that’s just common sense.

This quote could be titled 'Christianity, assimilate or else!'

Nov 18, 2017

"In the [neighbour]hood, even if you're not a hardcore criminal, crime is in your life in some way or another. There are degrees of it. ... The hood made me realized that crime succeeds because crime does the one thing the government doesn't do: crime cares. Crime is grassroots. Crime looks for the young kids who need support and a lifting hand. Crime offers internship programs and summer jobs and opportunities for advancement. Crime gets involved in the community. Crime doesn't discriminate." (p. 209)

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.


Add Age Suitability

Mar 06, 2018

katboxjanitor thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Sep 21, 2017

green_turtle_2159 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Apr 04, 2017

wrtrchk thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Summary

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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