Born A Crime

Born A Crime

Stories From A South African Childhood

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"One of the comedy world's fastest-rising stars tells his wild coming of age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Noah provides something deeper than traditional memorists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives. Trevor Noah is the host of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, where he gleefully provides America with its nightly dose of serrated satire. He is a light-footed but cutting observer of the relentless absurdities of politics, nationalism and race--and in particular the craziness of his own young life, which he's lived at the intersections of culture and history. In his first book, Noah tells his coming of age story with his larger-than-life mother during the last gasps of apartheid-era South Africa and the turbulent years that followed. Noah was born illegal--the son of a white, Dutch father and a black Xhosa mother, who had to pretend to be his nanny or his father's servant in the brief moments when the family came together. His brilliantly eccentric mother loomed over his life--a comically zealous Christian (they went to church six days a week and three times on Sunday), a savvy hustler who kept food on their table during rough times, and an aggressively involved, if often seriously misguided, parent who set Noah on his bumpy path to stardom. The stories Noah tells are sometimes dark, occasionally bizarre, frequently tender, and always hilarious--whether he's subsisting on caterpillars during months of extreme poverty or making comically pitiful attempts at teenage romance in a color-obsessed world; whether's he's being thrown into jail as the hapless fall guy for a crime he didn't commit or being thrown by his mother from a speeding car driven by murderous gangsters."--
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, 2016
ISBN: 9780385689229
Branch Call Number: 792.7028092 NOA


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

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.

Jan 25, 2018

I never expected to love this book the way I do. It was so engaging and interesting and occasionally funny and I learned so much from it. The book on CD was read by Trevor Noah and I believe it really added to my love of the book. If you have never used an audio book before, this is a great book to try for your first time.

Jan 25, 2018

This was one of the most honest and moving collection of stories that I have read in a long time. Trevor Noah’s voice is incredibly engaging, and keeps you completely absorbed into whatever story he is telling. Easily going to be one of the best books that I read this year.

Torliss Jan 15, 2018

I loved this book. When John Stewart left "The Daily Show" I wasn't sure I'd like his replacement. I only learned about Trevor Noah's life living under apartheid when I heard an interview with him on the radio. After reading "Born a Crime" I am in awe of this man. Funny and amazingly wise. He must have lived a hundred lives so far, and he isn't done yet! Being mixed race, he was neither fish nor fowl, and had nothing to identify with until....
Read the book. you won't be disappointed.

Dec 12, 2017

Excellent book well written.

LPL_ShirleyB Nov 27, 2017

To hear this author read his own candid & ironic words with fascinating insight & wit about culture and language, intense injustices and the absurdity of the social construct that is "race", what a fantastic audiobook!
Trevor Noah is a wise man, thanks to Patricia (his mom)! She abides no bounds, being black while living under apartheid. She is the embodiment of the aphorism: no one can oppress you without your permission.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

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 Quote

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 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.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings

BPL owns a similar edition of this title.

View originally-listed edition

Report edition-matching error

To Top