Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
WINNER OF THE THURBER PRIZE
The compelling, inspiring, (often comic) coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.
One of the comedy world's brightest new voices, Trevor Noah is 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 US hit show The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers 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, 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.
A collection of eighteen personal stories, Born a Crime tells the story of a mischievous young boy growing into a restless young man as he struggles to find his place 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 personal portrait of an unlikely childhood in a dangerous time, as moving and unforgettable as the very best memoirs and as funny as Noah's own hilarious stand-up. Born a Crime is a must read.
An engaging, fast-paced and vivid read ... Essential reading not only because it is a personal story of survival, leavened with insight and wit, but because it does more to expose apartheid - its legacy, its pettiness, its small-minded stupidity and its damage - than any other recent history book or academic text GUARDIAN It's no surprise that Trevor Noah, the slyly suave successor to Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show, should write a smart book. But 'smart' doesn't begin to cover what he pulls off in Born a Crime ... Noah's memoir is extraordinary ... essential reading on every level. It's hard to imagine anyone else doing a finer job of it SEATTLE TIMES Powerful... The story of his life is full of chase scenes in which he runs, hell for leather, from spankings, from the long arm of the law, and from the swinging fist of his stepfather... a unique perspective THE TIMES A soul-nourishing pleasure, even with all its darker edges and perilous turns, reading Noah recount in brisk, warmly conversational prose how he learned to negotiate his way through the bullying and ostracism ... is an enormous gift USA TODAY A BOOK TO READ NOW WALL STREET JOURNAL A memoir with heft... The interracial coupling that produced him really was a crime, making him an outsider. But he thrives with the help of his astonishingly fearless mother. (At one point she tosses him from a moving car -- driven by gangsters -- to save his life.) However brutal South African history is, their fierce bond makes this story soar PEOPLE, Best New Books Noah has a real story to tell -- and tells it well... A little scary, but trust me -- it's funny NEWSDAY An affecting memoir... a love letter to his mother WASHINGTON POST Mind-blowing as f*** COSMOPOLITAN Noah proves a gifted storyteller, deftly lacing his poignant tales with amusing irony ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY Incisive, funny, and vivid, these staggering true tales are anchored to Noah's portrait of his courageous, rebellious, and religious mother who defied racially restrictive laws to secure an education and a career for herself - and to have a child with a white Swiss/German even though sex between whites and blacks was illegal... Trevor Noah's electrifying memoir sparkles with funny stories ... and his candid and compassionate essays deepen our perception of the complexities of race, gender, and class BOOKLIST A gritty memoir ... studded with insight and provocative social criticism ... and brilliant storytelling and acute observations KIRKUS Sharp, at times harrowing ... The Daily Show host Trevor Noah reveals his coming-of-age as the son of protective interracial parents in apartheid South Africa HARPER'S BAZAAR Humble, candid and funny ELLE (South Africa) Thoughtful, observant and empathetic...a warm and human story of the type we will need to survive the Trump presidency's imminent freezing of humane values MAIL & GUARDIAN (South Africa) Compelling ... By turns alarming, sad, and funny, his book provides a harrowing look through the prism of Noah's family, at life in South Africa under apartheid and the country's lurching entry into a post-apartheid era in the 1990s ... Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author's remarkable mother -- Michiko Katutani New York Times
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 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.