Published by Random House Publishing Group on November 15th 2016
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Performing Arts, Comedy, Humor, Form, Essays
Format: Audio Book
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • 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
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 stories 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 humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.
“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah is a heartfelt, funny, and poignant look at what life was like growing under apartheid. The comedian and host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show narrates his memoir with loads of energy and humor. The author even makes the bad times less so with his optimistic outlook on life, and snarky sense of humor. Readers are given insight into what it was like for Noah to be a walking reminder that his parents were “traitors” to their country by associating with one another and that his presence was proof of their crime. We also get a glimpse of how he struggled under apartheid as a young man trying to fit in, and never finding a place to fit thanks to the strange division apartheid caused.
“I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to. “What if…” “If only…” “I wonder what would have…” You will never, never know, and it will haunt you for the rest of your days.”
I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since its release, and when I heard that Noah narrated the memoir, there was no way I wasn’t going to listen to the audiobook. Being a fan of Noah’s brand of comedy, I loved the personality he brought to the narration. When he spoke about his country, you could feel the love he feels for the place and its people. You also can hear the hurt South Africa has caused him, and how it’s shaped him as a man. What made the story even more authentic was Noah’s use of the various South African languages throughout the narration. His fluency with these languages added to the story and shows how much a melting pot South Africa is despite its tragic history.
If you are looking for a great memoir to read, Born a Crime is at the top of my list of recommendations. It’s so full of life, and interesting stories that you won’t want to put it down. Though I’m sure it reads very well, after listening to the audio I’d definitely have to recommend listening to Trevor Noah read it. You won’t regret it.
Born a Crime is chock full of great quotes and stories, but below are some of my favorites.
“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.”
“We live in a world where we don’t see the ramifications of what we do to others because we don’t live with them. It would be a whole lot harder for an investment banker to rip off people with subprime mortgages if he actually had to live with the people he was ripping off. If we could see one another’s pain and empathize with one another, it would never be worth it to us to commit the crimes in the first place.”
“The first thing I learned about having money was that it gives you choices. People don’t want to be rich. They want to be able to choose. The richer you are, the more choices you have. That is the freedom of money.”
“The hood made me realize 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 part-time jobs and opportunities for advancement. Crime gets involved in the community. Crime doesn’t discriminate.”
“Comfort can be dangerous. Comfort provides a floor but also a ceiling.”