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Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  553,346 ratings  ·  47,384 reviews
The memoir 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 such a union was punishable by five years in
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published November 15th 2016 by Doubleday Canada
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Angelique alberty Don't let swearing be the reason why you won't read this book. His story is uplifting and full of wisdom and history. Don't deny yourself this book. …moreDon't let swearing be the reason why you won't read this book. His story is uplifting and full of wisdom and history. Don't deny yourself this book. (less)
Marci Wu I especially want to know whatever happened to his partner in crime, Teddy, the one who was with Trevor as they stole chocolates from the shopping mal…moreI especially want to know whatever happened to his partner in crime, Teddy, the one who was with Trevor as they stole chocolates from the shopping mall. Did they reconnect? That chapter seemed to be a bit cut short to me.(less)

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Larry H
Jan 09, 2017 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 t
Emily May
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was fantastic.

Born a Crime, at over six months, is the longest library hold I've ever waited for. Normally, if I hadn't already lost interest by that point, I'd just break down and buy it, but I'm generally not a big memoir reader, so I was reluctant to spend money on a book I wasn't sure would be my thing. Well, I've ended up buying it anyway. And my husband and I are currently laughing our way through the audio version, too.

I just couldn't put this book down. There are many moments of com
Petra in 4 days may have a bf fingers crossed
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
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
Nov 18, 2016 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 enlightened 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 t
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Trevor Noah was a great narrator and had the ability to turn the grimmest of experiences into smart, exciting stories. If this book interests you, I urge you to listen to the audiobook!
It was fascinating learning about his life growing up as a mixed race child in pre- and post-Apartheid South Africa. Though I learned vague facts about Apartheid in high school history classes, this was the best lesson I've had on the subject.
The book skips around non-chronologically, which confused me at tim

“I soon learned that the quickest way to bridge the race gap was through language.”

Where do I even begin to explain how incredible this autobiography was?!
Trevor Noah brought this story to life, but ultimately, it was his mother that was the main character, the MVP, of this book.

Trevor Noah is narrating his account on being raised in Apartheid South Africa. (I look at that word and cannot fathom the audacity of it. It existed.) The issues growing up as a mixed-race child and
Elyse  Walters
Dec 02, 2016 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
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
The author is very charismatic and if you're going to read this book, I would recommend the audiobook since he narrates it! ...more
When he took over from John Stewart I'll admit I stopped watching TDS; however, intermittently, I would come across Trevor's comedy shows online which would have me doubling over fighting for air (watch the "Australian apple" and "Escalator" skits), and within a short period, I became an even more ardent fan of TDS.

In my opinion, Trevor is one of the most intelligent people on TV (or elsewhere) and this book shows us how he became the astute, authentic, resilient and insightful person that he no
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is great! I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read it. A celebrity memoir by a mixed-race guy who was born in South Africa under apartheid didn’t sound like it would be a smart, funny, and charming pleasure to read, but it is. Not that he minimizes the circumstances, but there more fact than lamentation. It’s a shame about those people who don’t enjoy audiobooks. His performance adds to fantastic storytelling.


The stories from his childhood reminded me of something Art Linkletter said about the c
May 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing

This is my 2nd attempt to read this memoir and I am glad I failed to pass the 2nd chapter the 1st time. I got so much more out of it now. I decided to buy the ebook a few years ago because of all the praise but I did not know who the author was so I could not feel connected with his story.

Meanwhile, during the pandemic, I started to watch stand-up comedy because I needed an escape from all the fear and gloom. Trevor Noah soon became one of my favourite comedians; I watched his 2 Netflix sp
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
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood ~~ Trevor Noah


Trevor Noah's BORN A CRIME is hilarious, heartbreaking & always told through a sympathetic lense. Noah moves from comedy to tragedy seamlessly. He understands the human condition better than most writers, no, most people. BORN A CRIME is one one of the best books I've read this year & maybe the best memoir I've ever read.

BORN A CRIME is a book of fascinating tales
Meredith (Slowly Catching Up)
Jun 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars!

This book made me love Trevor Noah even more than I already did.

I was both enthralled and at times horrified, reading about Noah's experiences growing up during the tail end of apartheid in South Africa. Born on A Crime is filled with heart, humor, trauma, and tears. This was a moving read that had me laughing and crying. My only regret was not choosing the audio version, as I would have loved to hear Noah narrate his experiences.

I highly recommend!
Nov 01, 2016 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
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
‘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.’

this is one of the most touching love letters to a mother i have ever read. although this is presented as a collection of coming-of-age stories in a time where his existence was literally a crime, trevors words radiate pure and unconditional love for his mom. i am beyond humbled by the lessons trevors childhood taught him, his s
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 though
Aug 17, 2019 marked it as to-read
I want this book right now right here
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have never heard of Trevor Noah before and haven't seen any of his shows. I picked up this book because it is a memoir, and am so glad that I read this wonderful book. It is a very good read - very well written - filled with hope humour, life, dreams and aspirations. Trevor, who is now 34 years old, has already gone through much in Life that he has a lot to share and much of it is filled with wisdom.

One of the most important lesson I have learnt from Trevor's memior is:

"You DO NOT own the
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
Montzalee Wittmann
Nov 22, 2016 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
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
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ 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
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
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 segregati
Nov 16, 2016 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.

Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah (Trevor's mother)

Adult Trevor Noah with
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 discusses how be
4 stars

Born a Crime is a memoir about Trevor Noah’s childhood in South Africa. I honestly don’t know much about Trevor Noah and I’ve never watched any of his stuff, but I got this as a freebie on audible forever ago and thought now would be a good time to read it. I’m so glad I did.

The best part about this audiobook is that Trevor Noah narrated it. With the different languages spoken and dialects, it was great to hear it all in Noah’s voice. Also, as heavy as it was at times, his humor really s
Nov 27, 2016 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
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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.” 1088 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.” 962 likes
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