Born A Crime

Born A Crime

Stories From A South African Childhood

Book - 2016
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"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

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Liber_vermis
Nov 18, 2017

This memoir recounts Trevor Noah's life up to his early twenties prior to "... becoming a comedian, touring the country, playing shows in England, hosting radio shows, hosting television shows." (p. 272) It is gritty, vulgar, and infused with human insight.

Rebecca_Kohn Nov 02, 2017

This is a tremendous memoir. I experienced it as an audio book, read by Trevor Noah. He is a citizen of the world, and a world class citizen. The fact that he has chosen comedy as a profession is testament to his gift to continue to embrace and appreciate humanity despite the violence and chaos he personally experienced growing up in South Africa.

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susan_findlay
Oct 28, 2017

I hope this book becomes as widely read as it deserves to be. Some of the insights about how humans can allow structures like apartheid to develop need to reach a wider audience. I also really appreciated the opportunity to learn about somebody whose childhood was so dramatically different from my own.

Unsurprisingly, Trevor Noah has a knack for telling stories in an amusing way - even if parts of some of them are actually quite horrifying if you were to step back and look at them objectively. There is no self pity whatsoever in this book (though he would certainly be entitled to it). He is very matter-of-fact about some things that were clearly his 'normal' at the time (even if they are clearly not his 'normal' anymore). He also offers interesting insights into black culture and colored culture that never would have occurred to me.

This book is very readable - full of snippets and anecdotes interspersed with brief observations about culture, human nature, etc.

Highly recommended.

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dnlle
Oct 16, 2017

This compelling memoir by Trevor Noah is a collection of stories from his childhood while growing up in South Africa during and after apartheid. These stories give insight into his personal life, as well as the culture and history of South Africa. Covering many serious issues - including racism, poverty, and abuse - Noah’s memoir is funny, insightful, and heartfelt.

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LPL_Sarah
Oct 09, 2017

I went from, "Trevor Noah? You mean that handsome guy who took over for Jon Stewart?," to "Oh my God, how is he alive and able to tell this story and still remain calm and witty?!" A mesmerizing story. I could not put it down.

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LauraSteinert
Oct 02, 2017

How Noah can write about growing up under apartheid without anger, without demonizing the white people of South Africa, is beyond me. It takes little imagination to add in the details of the stresses his mother kept from him. Finding your place in a world where you are the only one of your kind is the main focus of this book. Very appropriate for teens of all colors, for adults, and for seniors who want to understand difference, struggle, and overcoming the insurmountable.

LPL_TriciaK Sep 29, 2017

This is a great book for anyone and everyone, especially in 2017 when racisim is part of our daily national conversation. Trevor Noah explains the ridiculous, insane, cruel system that was apartheid in South Africa, and in the process of discussing that structure, helps the reader view through new, clearer eyes the current strained situation here in the U.S. Noah is so smart and funny that his humor makes reading about injustice and inequality accessible. His memoir reminded me a little of "Angela's Ashes" - wherein author Frank McCourt's descriptions of poverty in Ireland were tolerable because he was able to shine a light on the humor that could be found in their dire circumstances.

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lachmik
Sep 16, 2017

This book was hilarious. I loved it. You can read my full take on it at: https://bookswehaveread.com/2017/08/05/born-a-crime/

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sarahdgamble
Sep 16, 2017

"Born a Crime" is a compelling, page-turning memoir, but how Noah turned to comedy as a career is never explored. His mother, though, has an in-depth portrayal. Her philosophy of life and her depth of faith is amazing. Noah also shares insights into his younger self, his family, and his culture. Since events are not told chronologically, the reader may sometimes get confused with what is happening when. Some chapters are abrupt but others are longer and more developed. Overall, though, his writing is humorous and sensitive subjects are handled skillfully.

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pwatkins1212
Sep 15, 2017

Trevor’s spirit is poured carefully into a story of unfiltered truth, comedic genius, and uncanny empathy. It educates on the atrocities of apartheid and how burdens doubled by his poverty and cultural ambiguity served as starter fluid for a fire within that is as relentless as it is also creatively appealing to the forward thinker. One of my favorite quotes is, “it’s easier to be insider as outsider than it is to be outsider as an insider” because it does well in describing the place from which Trevor’s cultural sensitivity and empathy were spawn. It also iteraites the very fact that racism is an artificial and divisive construct.

There is practically no simpler way to explain Noah’s love for his mother than by saying it is deep and abiding. As the starring character Noah’s mother is the quintessential superhero who while dealing with a host of foes (Trevor included) maintains the wherewithal to [literally] love fearlessly and courageously.

Noah’s story calls the reader to a place of deep reflection on matters of the heart while also challenging one to consider the quality of self awareness. What I ended up taking from the book was a deepened understanding of what it means to be a "cultural chameleon" and what it means to choose to see the goodness in people in moments their absolute highest devilry. I found Trevor's giftedness in compassion and empathy to have a distinct recalibrating quality.

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green_turtle_2159
Sep 21, 2017

green_turtle_2159 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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wrtrchk
Apr 04, 2017

wrtrchk thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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Liber_vermis
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)

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shayshortt
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.

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shayshortt
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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