Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

· Sold by One World
974 reviews

About this ebook

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • More than one million copies sold! A “brilliant” (Lupita Nyong’o, Time), “poignant” (Entertainment Weekly), “soul-nourishing” (USA Today) memoir about coming of age during the twilight of apartheid
“Noah’s childhood stories are told with all the hilarity and intellect that characterizes his comedy, while illuminating a dark and brutal period in South Africa’s history that must never be forgotten.”—Esquire
Winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor and an NAACP Image Award • Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Time, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Esquire, Newsday, and Booklist

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.

Ratings and reviews

974 reviews
IG Music
June 3, 2021
I've gotta say, this is one person I wish who had a smaller spot light. I used to be an avid watcher of the daily show with John Stewart but then Noah came along and completely changed up the routine. Slowly I began to stop watching. Listening to repeated jokes and repeated deliveries, gets sickening. I've watched a stand up of him and question how that got him discovered. Many talented black comedians out there but Trevor is not one of them. He's more of an activist with a platform, and that I don't care to watch. His book was good insight on his childhood and such and gave a perspectives on his up bringing. But personally like his performances it fell flat.
5 people found this review helpful
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Michael Frost
January 12, 2021
The only crime here is this book. I think there are genuine ideas to be conveyed, but the author appears to be out of his depth, variously oblivious, and, dare I say, humorless? The author is simultaneously blithely unaware that stoking the divisive climate that engendered apartheid, which he condemns, may not be all that far removed from his own brand of comedy.
1 person found this review helpful
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Alpana Savarna
October 26, 2017
Trevor makes some serious points interspersed with stories from his childhood both of which are a pleasure to read. However i wish it wasnt so obviously directed towards the American audience. Their culture is the most exported, but we're not all well versed with the american high school milestones.
8 people found this review helpful
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About the author

Trevor Noah is a comedian from South Africa.

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