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Born A Crime

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Born A Crime

Stories from a South African Childhood



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Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
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"Fantastic autobiography!"
5 stars"
Purchased on Mighty Ape

This is a superb autobiography by Trevor Noah, best known in New Zealand as the South African comedian who took over from Jon Stewart as the host of US television's iconic “The Daily Show”. It's the story of his life – about being born, literally, “a crime” during the apartheid years in South Africa, growing up as a “coloured” child (son of a black woman and a white man) during the years of racial segregation, his family's life in the townships and segregated areas, the changes in the country post-1994, and Noah's ascent to national and international fame. It's also a testimonial of love to his incredibly strong, resilient mother who challenged the expectations and norms of the grindingly poor and oppressed society in which she grew up, raised Noah by herself (despite being unable even to hold his hand in public during the apartheid regime), and enabled him to move away from the poverty-stricken future his past might otherwise have condemned him to. It's definitely worth buying the audio version of the book as Noah narrates this himself and puts his amazing linguistic and mimicry talents to great use in conveying the personalities of the people he describes in the book. I can recommend this book unreservedly. It's simultaneously funny, informative, fascinating and inspirational – a wonderful read and a great way of coming to understand just how far the extraordinary Trevor Noah has travelled in his life's journey.

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.


The compelling, inspiring and comically sublime story of a young man's coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Trevor Noah is one of the comedy world's brightest new voices, a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers in America and around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his focus inward, giving readers a deeply personal, heartfelt and humorous look at the world that shaped him. Noah was born a crime, the son of 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 first 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, take him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's 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. A collection of eighteen personal essays, Born a Crime tells 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. Born a Crime is equally the story of that young man's fearless, rebellious and fervently religious mother - a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence and abuse that ultimately threatens her own life. 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, Noah illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and an unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a lovable delinquent making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed with only a keen sense of humour and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love.

Author Biography

Trevor Noah is the host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Daily Show. He first joined the show as a contributor in 2014 and succeeded Jon Stewart as host in 2015. While The Daily Show has introduced Noah to an American audience, he's long been a popular comedian around the globe. Born in South Africa to a black South African mother and a white European father, Noah rose improbably to stardom with The Racist, his one-man show at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which enjoyed a sold-out run and became one of the most talked-about shows at the festival that year. He made his US television debut that year on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has also appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, becoming the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on either late-night programme. He lives in New York.
Release date NZ
November 17th, 2016
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
John Murray Publishers Ltd
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