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Born A Crime

Born A Crime

Stories From A South African Childhood

Book - 2016 | First edition.
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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
Branch Call Number: B NOAH, T.
Characteristics: x, 288 pages ; 25 cm


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Jul 20, 2021

Born a Crime essentially consists of a collection of short stories from Trevor Noah's life, and each of them reveal their own morals as well as what kind of environment he was immersed in as a child. Some of these include growing up with his mother, the difficulty fitting in as a person of mixed color, and the unarguable amounts of prejudice and racism prevalent in society. I admire how Noah is able to incorporate humor into his narratives, and yet it never manages to diminish the significance of the events themselves. His attitude and personality really show through his writing; it almost comes across as a casual conversation between the author and reader. The struggle to find his own identity in various settings is also relatable— though I never really had these specific experiences, I was able to understand how he would have felt on an emotional level regardless.

Jul 17, 2021

A quick and compelling read about Trevor Noah's childhood from birth to the end of secondary school. A very revealing of portrait of life in South Africa during that period, especially for a mixed race kid like Trevor. Very honestly told; he shares some very bad things that he and others did. Was recommended to me as a resource for learning more about racism and how to combat it. It helped on both counts.

Jul 04, 2021

This autobiography is simultaneously educational, fascinating and laugh-out-loud funny. Trevor Noah's experiences growing up as a mixed kid in South Africa just at the end of Apartheid are unique, and the telling if them offers unique insight into that society, and ours. His formidable mother features prominently and his respect for her is admirable and apparent. I highly recommend this book.

Jun 22, 2021

Nov 2011

Jun 20, 2021

Woah, absolutely touched! I'm feeling out of words to review this book, it was overwhelming in everyway. I laughed and cried so much through the book and it literally felt like I was living his life. I'm genuinely happy and grateful he is where he is today and is able to tell his story in his words in this way. Highly recommend this book to all!

Jun 19, 2021

Great read. Loved it. Had everything g in it for me. Thinking I may read it again as I read it way to fast . I was just enjoying the read so much I could not put it down.

Jun 08, 2021

Memoirs by comedians can be a let down, but this one wasn’t. The entire book was undergirded by his deep love for his mother, starting with a tale of when she had to chuck him out of a moving car to when she nearly died at the hands of a violent ex-spouse whom the police had never intercepted. Never preachy, he tells stories of his unconventional growing up years while educating readers unfamiliar with South African cultures or history. I thought this was an absolutely fascinating read.

May 15, 2021

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah is a captivating, humorous and heartwarming read. It follows a collection of stories from the life of comedian Trevor Noah. It shows how he grows and overcomes challenges and hardships through his childhood, and highlights important, uncomfortable topics like racism and the apartheid in South Africa. I rated this book a 4 out of 5, it is an enjoyable and entertaining read that I enjoyed reading.

May 12, 2021

meh. I was expecting more about how he got from SA to the US and how his prosperity has affected his family. I was also expecting it to be funny, which it wasn't at all. I didn't learn anything new about the plight of non-white people in SA and the writing style was quite boring. Sorry I can't give it a better rating.

CMLibrary_Veronica Mar 23, 2021

I really enjoyed this book. On top of loving Trevor Noah and thinking he his hilarious, I think his personality just pours out of this book in a way other memoirs don't. There are definitely some parts of the book that you can just hear him talking in your head and I love that. I do wish I listened to it because I've heard great things about the audiobook, but I'm afraid it wouldn't have been able to keep my attention to finish it. I'm glad I read it, also, because learning the words and seeing how different words are spelled is something I'm super interested in.

ANYWAYS! I loved this book. I love Trevor Noah. I love how different his story is. I wish I could sit down and talk to him for hours about all the things he's experienced because it doesn't feel like this book is enough. I definitely recommend if you're a fan of his or if you just need a good read, this is one! I really hope he continues writing.

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Add a Quote

“Nelson Mandela once said, 'If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.' He was so right. When you make the effort to speak someone else's language, even if it's just basic phrases here and there, you are saying to them, 'I understand that you have a culture and identity that exists beyond me. I see you as a human being”
― Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

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 a Summary
Feb 01, 2021

Trevor Noah, a stand-up comedian, depicts his childhood in this hilarious memoir as he battles the racist Apartheid in South Africa, combats domestic violence against his mother, and escapes gangs in his hometown of Johannesburg. Trevor tells the story of his deeply religious mother, and how they would spend hours every Sunday just trying to get to Church, even when their car broke down. Trevor discusses the multiple African languages, and how he got to learn many by growing up in diverse schools where he met people of different cultures. He talks about how he almost got arrested for stealing chocolates from the mall, and the police get away he had to execute shortly after. He discusses the segregation in schools and neighborhoods, where white kids were put into higher level classes and lived in better communities with more housing. Trevor sympathizes over how he thought he met his dream friend, a dog, which and later the dog left him for another boy. These childhood stories go on and on, and higher-level make you laugh while others will question the racism, bigotry, and violence that occured in many parts of South Africa.

SPL_Sonya Sep 23, 2019

Trevor Noah is best known as the late night talk show host who took over the Daily Show after the retirement of Jon Stewart in 2015. Trevor Noah is South African and this book relates the many fascinating and improbable stories that made up his childhood.

Noah reminds us of the horrors of apartheid (forced segregation of the races) in his native country. The fact that his mother is black and his father is white was actually a crime when he was born in the 1980s. People of different races could not marry and definitely could not have a child together. But that's exactly what happened in Trevor's case.

By the bizarre and hateful traditions of South Africa at that time he was labelled as 'coloured' to differentiate him from black people and white people. Everyone was classified based on their race. He was kept out of the public eye as much as possible growing up. When seen in public, Trevor's mother had to pretend she did not know him. As a child Trevor found this profoundly disturbing. His white father from Switzerland also could not acknowledge any connection with the boy.

Despite the horrors of life in South Africa, this memoir is upbeat and very funny. Trevor Noah was the kind of child that drives parents crazy. He was impulsive, clever and always getting himself into trouble. He was maddening and yet he was also adorable and irresistible.

There is no bitterness in his retelling of his childhood despite the poverty and violence that was always around him. He relates how difficult it was to fit in because of his unusual racial status. Noah's honesty is refreshing. At no time in his book does he exaggerate his importance or avoid embarrassing stories about himself. Quite the opposite, in fact. His stories about his first girlfriend, his illegal money making schemes and his trouble fitting in with other kids are honest, endearing and often hilarious.

It is incredible to think that a young man who grew up under such horrible circumstances could turn out to be the successful host of a TV show half a world away.

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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