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Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

4.49  ·  Rating Details ·  48,559 Ratings  ·  7,238 Reviews
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.

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 s
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published November 15th 2016 by Doubleday Canada
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Larry H
Jan 09, 2017 Larry H rated it really liked it
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

I was really surprised when Trevor Noah was named Jon Stewart's successor on The Daily Show . I inherently knew that they wouldn't pick someone with a sense of humor and style identical to Stewart's, but I felt that Noah was so different that his selection meant the show would have a really different feel, which might not appeal to long-time fans of the show. But I always root for the underdog, so as he was getting savaged by critics and fans in his first few days on the
Petra Eggs
These stories, beautifully written, are set in a world quite like our own but at the same time utterly different. Maybe "through a glass darkly". Who goes to church three times on Sunday to Black, White and Coloured ones? Who goes to jail for (not) stealing a car rather than face the wrath of his mother? Who gets a prom date with the most beautiful girl around, but one who doesn't speak the language and is extremely unsociable to boot? None of these things are extraordinary in this world,

Who cou
Nov 18, 2016 Natalie rated it it was amazing
Before I start my review, I want to take a minute to praise Trevor Noah's stand up shows because they're one of the few that don't rely on being ignorant. His shows are one of the enlighten ones focusing on race, white-privilege, police brutality, hate speech, prejudice, and so much more.
I’d highly recommend watching a few before reading this riveting memoir.

In Born a Crime, Trevor Noah takes us on a journey from his childhood being born a crime in apartheid South Africa. Trevor was born to a w
Jan 20, 2017 Maxwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're going to read this book, definitely listen to the audio version. Trevor Noah is one of the most effortless narrators I've ever listened to. It genuinely feels like he is sitting down with you and telling you his life story. Not only that, but you get to learn quite a bit about pre- and post-Apartheid South Africa from the perspective of someone who hypothetically shouldn't exist. Noah's mother is black and his father is white, and when he was born any mixed-race relationships were ille ...more
Dec 02, 2016 Elyse rated it it was amazing
An audiobook *treasure*!

Trevor is a likable! A charming- guy!!! Listening to him speak is almost magnetic.
Being thrown out of a car? By his own mother? OUCH! Trevor had my attention in the palm of his hands.

The ongoing - ongoing - and ONGOING ....dramatic stories Trevor shares about his childhood --were life lesson building blocks. Trevor did the building!! He used every life experience to his advantage-- and that's extraordinary!
Poverty, abuse, Religious upbringing, crazy chaotic living con
Jennifer Masterson
Five HUGE Stars for Trevor Noah's book! Believe the hype! I absolutely loved it. I listened to the audio. Trevor narrates his stories of growing up in South Africa. I highly recommend the audio version. He made this book come to life with his narration. This would actually make a good first listen.

I just became a fan recently of his and thought I'd give the book a shot. I'm so happy I did! I learned a lot about apartheid and I learned a lot about South Africa. I also learned some gross facts lik
An amazing story of a young man and his mother who went around the block a few times and beat the odds.

Despite a few inaccuracies in his tale, it remains a well-told story that kept me reading and reading until the very end. Trevor Noah has that intelligent kindness like an astral light around him. He has that look of wisdom and experience in his eyes which allow people to like and want to listen to him. He is a gentle soul. I guess he can thank his mom for that. She was on his case, saving his
Book Riot Community
I’m joining the club of other Rioters who have read and loved this one. Something you should know about me: memoirs are NOT my jam. I can count on one hand the memoirs I’ve read and enjoyed, so I was honestly shocked by how much I loved reading Born a Crime. Noah can tell a story like nobody’s business, and very often his tales weave tragedy and comedy together in the best way imaginable. I also have to admire Noah’s bare-bones honesty; he really doesn’t front at all. If you’re the type of perso ...more
Iris P
Born a Crime

 photo trevor-noah-daily-show_zpswoii1b4c.jpg
Funny guy- The very charming Trevor Noah
"People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing."
Trevor Noah

By the time Trevor Noah was born in 1984, Apartheid, the system that institutionalized segregation an
Nov 27, 2016 Malia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky to see Trevor Noah speak about this book recently, and the way he talked about his story, and his life growing up in South Africa made me all the more eager to read it! The book is a cohesive collection of stories from his childhood and early adulthood, and though I am not typically a reader of much non-fiction, I found this book truly compelling and hard to put down!
Noah has a way of really drawing you in, and making you feel as though you are there with him, experiencing his memori
Nenia *The Flagrant Liberal* Campbell

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I consider myself an unofficial expert on celebrity memoirs. I haven't read all of them (although I would like to - even the stupid ones, because I am incredibly nosy and devour celebrity gossip the way other people devour Dorritos or fake news), but I've read a fair amount, and they usually follow a typical narrative arc. In BORN A CRIME, Trevor Noah takes that arc, flattens it out, and beats you over the head with it.

I love Trevor Noah. I
Montzalee Wittmann
Nov 22, 2016 Montzalee Wittmann rated it it was amazing
Born a Crime Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah is such an interesting look into the life of a talented young man. I am a big fan of Trevor and watched his special on Netflix where he speaks of his life growing up but this goes into so much detail, it is stunning all that this guy goes through and is not a bitter man. He describes the horrible laws and society he is born into and the way he is looked at in his society. How he tries to see himself. His life in poverty, with a v ...more
Trevor Noah is a South African comedian who currently hosts The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Born a Crime is about growing up in South Africa: living under apartheid when his existence was evidence of a crime, life after apartheid, the deep bond between a mother and son, the unique challenges of growing up mixed race, and living with an abusive stepfather. It's filled with humor and biting social commentary, but the main words that describe this book are insightful and heartfelt. I was already ...more
Matthew Quann
Dec 15, 2016 Matthew Quann rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: audiobook fans,
The only thing I knew about Trevor Noah prior to this audiobook was his status as host of The Daily Show, a show that I don't watch.

Also, celebrity autobiographies: not really my thing (barring the odd exception).

But that title demands curiosity: how can someone be born a crime? So, I picked up the book in a bookstore, read the dust jacket, and thought Hey, this seems like it might be good. I then put the book down and promptly forgot about the whole thing.

Of course, then I began to see it p
Nov 19, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it
I really liked this book about Trevor Noah's childhood in South Africa. I listened to this on audio, narrated by the comedian himself, and I appreciated his frank storytelling. I enjoyed his memories of his mother and grandmother, and the details of the various scrapes he got into as a kid. It was especially enlightening hearing what his mother went through just to be able to see his father, who was Swiss. Because interracial relationships were forbidden under apartheid, they had to be clever to ...more
Nov 01, 2016 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
Overall, Born a Crime is a fascinating story, but the loose editing and too casual a writing style meant it lacked narrative cohesion for me, so it's a solid 3 star review.

Trevor Noah's childhood memoir definitely showcases his fresh, witty perspective and provide a lot of history and context of life under apartheid and life just after the end of apartheid, from a macro level of the forces and powers at work and warring against each other, to the micro level of Trevor and his family's experienc
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah is a 2016 Spiegel & Grau publication.

I’ve been a fan of Trevor Noah since he started hosting ‘The Daily Show’, but after reading this book, I’m an even bigger fan.

I admit I know virtually nothing about South Africa other than the absolute obvious, like what is reported in the news. So, Trevor gives readers like myself a bit of a history and a maybe a civics lesson too, in how people are divided by class and race and the th
Nov 28, 2016 Esil rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
4 high stars. I had no idea who comedian Trevor Noah was, but there were enough rave reviews about his book Born a Crime to make me curious. I'm so glad I read it. Noah was born in South Africa just before the end of Apartheid. His mother is black and his father was white, and given the times in which he was born, he was literally "born a crime" as a mixed race kid. His book focuses on his early years growing up in South Africa. I'm not sure I can do justice to what makes this book so excellent. ...more
Jan 04, 2017 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Within the first twenty pages of this book, I regretted just two days earlier writing the sentence “Trevor Noah, while smart and funny, doesn't feel like a must-watch” while lamenting how much I miss Jon Stewart.

This is perhaps the most remarkable celebrity memoir I’ve ever read. I am a hyperbolic person by nature, but I’m really hard pressed to remember one that’s made this big an impression on me. Not just because of the content--which is at times heartbreaking and mindblowing--but also becaus
Nov 16, 2016 Barbara rated it really liked it

4.5 stars

Trevor Noah, a comedian and the current host of 'The Daily Show' is a very funny guy.....and I expected this memoir to be full of witty jokes. It's not. The book is about Trevor growing up in South Africa when apartheid was coming to an end. Apartheid and it's aftermath left the impoverished black population of South Africa with hard lives and few opportunities. Nevertheless, Trevor infuses his story with hope and humor.

Trevor was born in 1984, to a white Swiss father and a black mothe
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Once again, I decided to read something from the non-fiction/biography genres. Partly because I adore Trevor Noah as a person. Partly because I love Trevor Noah's voice & appreciate when authors tell their own stories, both fictional and non-fictional. & Partly because I want to try and get more comfortable with reads like this that are outside of my normal realm.

In this Trevor tells many stories from his childhood in South Africa. He is funny, well-spoken, and insightful as he discusse
Jan 18, 2017 Riley rated it it was amazing
This was so fascinating! I loved learning about what it was like to grow up in South Africa.
Trevor is such a good storyteller. I was so captivated by everything he said. And he was able to turn very tough experiences into funny stories. I highly recommend listening to this on audio as Trevor narrates it himself and does a fantastic job!
Oct 12, 2016 Tania rated it really liked it
I became a chameleon. My color didn't change, but I could change your perception of my color.

I really wasn't sure what to expect with this book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Imagine being born from a black mother and a white father in a country where interracial relationships were against the law. This would mean that because you are colored you could not be seen with both of your parents (or they with each other) or stay in the same area as them. I think I learned more about apartheid, as well
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This was very enjoyable in audio, and I'm not sure what my experience would have been in print. Trevor Noah writes about his childhood growing up "colored" in South Africa, which you will learn, as a reader to this book, how that is different from white or black or Indian. Despite studying apartheid in school (or so I thought) I had no clear concept of the complexity of the system, intentionally designed to put people at odds with one another.

Trevor Noah was quite a character, running from his
ETA: The more I think about this book after having finished it, the more annoyed I become. I have changed my rating to one star. I did not like this book. What tipped the balance for me is the "Go Hitler" chant. The author's explanation was not adequate and I found the whole episode inappropriately drawn.


I was perpetually annoyed while reading this book. Perhaps this is my own fault. I misunderstood what its central focus was to be. It is less a book about growing up in South
Nov 03, 2016 abby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Trevor Noah was the only white kid in the black neighborhood, the only black kid in the white neighborhood, and the only mixed-race kid in the colored neighborhood. He didn't always know where he fit in, but he always knew who he was.

Noah was born in South Africa while it was still under the system of apartheid. He is the product of a black woman from the Xhosa tribe and a white Swiss father, who broke the racial purity laws that could have landed them in jail for several years if their "crime"
Jan 09, 2017 PattyMacDotComma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of apartheid, South Africa, teens
UPDATE May 2017 I've added a P.S. regarding the use of the name "Hitler"
I began reading this as a memoir rather than a series of separate essays, and I think that was my mistake, not the author’s. There’s not a defined timeline from childhood through adolescence and beyond, so I sometimes wasn’t sure how old he was when certain incidents happened.

As it turns out, it doesn’t really matter. This is a difficult story for me, a privileged, Western, white woman, to read about a desperately poor b
Nov 18, 2016 Ammar rated it really liked it
I had no idea who Trevor Noah was before I read this ARC from Penguin Canada. I don't have cable and I didn't want to google him before hand and taint my experience with this book.

His crime isn't a crime he committed, it's the archaic laws of the oppressor on the oppressed. Trevor Noah who is South African is a product of a mixed race relationship... that put himself and his family in dangerous situations growing up in a pre Apartheid South Africa.

But the memoir is funny and it does show that
Nov 20, 2016 Trish rated it really liked it
Trevor Noah’s memoir about growing up mixed in South Africa ends with a bang. In some ways, he is the manifestation of his mother’s dream of escape. A dream of equality might be a step too far, but escape…escape from Soweto, a township “designed to be bombed” with a population of one million and only two roads in or out.
”The story of Soweto is the story of driveways. It is a hopeful place.”
Trevor’s mother’s family lived in Soweto, and though she had courageously—even foolishly, white people in
Oct 24, 2016 Liz rated it really liked it
I have been a huge fan of The Daily Show for years. So, it was with some trepidation that I accepted the news that Trevor Noah was taking over for Jon Stewart. But he's done a great job of making the show his own. Based on what little I knew of his background, I was curious to read his autobiography.

The books is as much history lesson as autobiography. Noah does a great job explaining apartheid and the issues facing South Africa. He uses his own experience to make you truly understand apartheid
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Trevor Noah is a South African comedian, television and radio host and actor. He currently hosts The Daily Show, a late-night television talk show on Comedy Central.
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“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.” 194 likes
“People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.” 151 likes
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