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Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  252,332 ratings  ·  26,356 reviews
The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about 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
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 15th 2016 by Doubleday Canada
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Average rating 4.46  · 
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 ·  252,332 ratings  ·  26,356 reviews


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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 day
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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 thi
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Petal X Planet
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,
<
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Maxwell
Jan 20, 2017 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 illegal. I was ...more
Nat
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 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.

description
In Born a Crime, Trevor Noah takes us on a journey from his childhood being born a crime in apartheid
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Zoë
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5/5
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
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Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
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
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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!
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 gro
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Lori
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
description

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.

description

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.

description

The stories from his childhood reminded me of something Art Linkletter said about the children chosen for the “Kids Say the Darndest Things" segment of his show. “It asked the dear teachers to give us the four children they would most like to have out of the class for a few blessed hours. The teachers would laugh and send me the rascals.” Not that that little Trevor was a bad kid, he is just one of those people that belong on a stage. He was a bit conflicted when exhorted to pray for God to kill the demon who had done the bad thing.
”Dear Lord, please protect us, um, you know, from whoever did this, like, we don’t know what happened exactly and maybe it was a big misunderstanding and, you know, maybe we shouldn’t be quick to judge when we don’t know the whole story and, I mean, of course you know best, Heavenly Father, but maybe this time it wasn’t actually a demon, because who can say for certain, so maybe cut whoever it was a break…”


I love his mother.

descriptionPatricia Nombuyiselo Noah

While this is Trevor's story, but it very much a loving tribute to her.

description
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Warda
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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.

You all know what this book is about: Trevor Noah is narrating his account on being raised in Apartheid South Africa. The issues growing up as a mixed-race child and a mother who defied all societal standard an
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Bibi
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 now is(watch
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jessica
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 struggles, t
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Kenny
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, people, audio
“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood


1

Trevor Noah's BORN A CRIME is hilarious, heartbreaking and 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
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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
Margitte
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
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Julie
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
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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
Iris P
Born a Crime


 photo trevor-noah-daily-show_zpswoii1b4c.jpg
Funny guy- The very charming Trevor Noah
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"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 institutionaNoah
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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 being th
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Sam
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 experiences in tha
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Nenia ⚜️ Author of Filthy Trash and Unhinged Psychos ⚜️ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest


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 love what he brings to The Daily Show. I t
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Malia
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
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Barbara
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.



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 his father Robert Noah

Trevor was born in 1984, to a white Swiss father and a black mother from the Xhosa tribe. At that time, apartheid was still in effect and mixing of the races was forbidden by law. Thus, light-skinned Trevor was evidence of a crime. The child - who lived with his mother in a black neighborhood - had to stay hidden inside during his early childhood....lest he be grabbed by the authorities and taken to an orphanage.


Trevor Noah with his mother


Little Trevor Noah


Young Trevor rarely went outside because mixed race children could be taken away


School age Trevor Noah


Nomalizo Frances Noah (Trevor's grandmother) in front of her house, where Trevor lived as a kid


Trevor's grandmother inside her home


Trevor's grandmother is proud of her family


Trevor's grandmother was reluctant to discipline him because she might damage his light skin

The dismantling of apartheid in the early 1990's eased the situation for blacks and people of mixed race (classified as 'colored'), and Trevor and his mother - named Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah - embarked on a rather tumultuous life. Patricia acquired secretarial skills and got an office job, which meant the Noahs were a little bit better off than many black South African families. Patricia even had a junky old car which - being a devout Christian - she used to 'schlep' Trevor to three or four different churches every Sunday.


South African church

When Patricia wasn't working or at church she loaded Trevor into the car and took him to places that cost no money, like parks, picnics, and sightseeing past white people's mansions. Trevor's mom had the attitude "I'm going to give you everything I never had." Patricia made it her mission to provide food for Trevor's body and books for his mind - and to afford this, spent almost no money on anything else.


Trevor's mom bought him books

As Trevor describes it: their car was a tin can on wheels; they lived in the middle of nowhere; they had shabby furniture; they changed the channels on their tiny black and white TV with pliers; and they wore clothes from thrift stores.

During good times Trevor's family ate chicken, but when times were tough they ate food meant for dogs like 'sawdust' (meat scraps) and 'soup bones.' During one terrible month - when the mechanic business of Trevor's stepfather was failing - the family had to live on marogo (wild spinach) cooked with mopane worms (caterpillars). Trevor describes this as the worst time of his life.


Marogo


Mopane worms

Trevor was a self-described 'naughty child' whose high energy level and mischievous pranks got him into lots of trouble. Trevor also loved fire and once burned down the house of a white family. To escape spankings from his mother, Trevor would streak out of the house and through the neighborhood - with Patricia close behind. As a result Trevor became a very fast runner, a talent that would be useful later on - when he had to run away from cops and tough guys. Though Patricia didn't spare the spankings, she punished Trevor 'out of love' - and he reciprocated the affection.

Trevor was an enterprising youth and found inventive ways to make money. By the time he was in high school Trevor was selling pirated CDs he made at home - an enterprise that led to deejaying parties in black townships. Trevor also partnered up with a couple of friends to run a kind of 'loan and barter' business, which netted plenty of extra cash for McDonald's, beer, and electronic equipment.


Trevor Noah looking cool

On the downside, Trevor never fit in anywhere. Being a light-skinned black, Trevor wasn't accepted by blacks, whites, Indians, Asians, or colored people (most of whom have a complicated ancestry beginning with Dutch settlers and black women). To compensate Trevor made it his business to learn many of the languages spoken in South Africa, including English, Afrikaans, Sotho, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, and more. This made Trevor a sort of 'chameleon' who could get by with everyone.

Trevor also had bad luck with girls, partly because he had terrible acne. Trevor describes several attempts to get a girlfriend, and these tales are amusing....and a little heartbreaking. In high school, for example, Trevor's friend set him up with a beautiful girl named Babiki for the matric dance (prom). Trevor and his friend hung out with Babiki and her sisters for a couple of months before the dance, getting acquainted. Then, on the night of the matric dance, Babiki refused to get out of the car and go inside. Trevor realized - for the very first time - that Babiki couldn't speak English and he couldn't speak Pedi (her language). Ha ha ha.


Trevor Noah attended school at HC Jack in Highlands North, Johannesburg


Girls dressed up for the matric dance

The worst thing that happened in Trevor's life was his mother's marriage to Abel, a car mechanic with a murderous temper and a strong 'master of the house' attitude. Patricia sold her house, quit her job, and impoverished the family to help Abel with his mechanic business....to no avail. Abel was a terrible businessman who drank up the profits and came home intoxicated and abusive. In fits of anger Abel would hit Patricia and slap Trevor around. By the time Trevor finished high school he had to move out. Patricia ultimately left Abel, who eventually became so distraught that he shot her in the head.

In addition to his personal story Trevor talks about the evils of apartheid.....how the system purposely fomented discord among black tribes (especially Zulu and Xhosa), impoverished the non-white population, denied non-whites a decent education, left them untrained for jobs, made them feel inferior, took their homes and land, forced them into barren homelands, etc. etc. etc. Trevor touches on how this affected himself, his extended family, and his friends.....and the story is sad, bleak and dismaying.


Zulu tribe celebration


Xhosa tribe celebration (Trevor's mother belonged to the Xhosa tribe)

Trevor's mother survived being shot in the head.....and the book ends there. Trevor doesn't talk about becoming a comedian, his show business career, or becoming host of The Daily Show. The program's original host, Jon Stewart, was terrific and I was sad when he left. Still, Trevor is doing a good job (in my opinion). He's personable, smart and funny.....and his impressions and accents are spot on. Trevor makes me laugh every time I watch the show. If Trevor writes a sequel to this book, I'll read it for sure. :)


Trevor Noah sharing his book with a friend


Trevor Noah is a funny guy

I'd highly recommend the book to fans of celebrity memoirs and to readers interested in apartheid and South Africa.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of the book.

You can follow my reviews at http://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com
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Diane
Nov 19, 2016 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
Chrissie
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
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Matthew Quann
Dec 15, 2016 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 popping up on best-of-the-ye
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Taryn
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 a casual fan, but this book can be re ...more
Jessica Jeffers
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
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Khush
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
'Born a Crime' is a fast-paced narrative of Trevor Noah's life. I knew nothing about Trevor's background except that he is an American celebrity. I liked his talk shows, like million others.

His story comes as a huge shock. Looking at him today, I find it hard to believe that he went through so much, so early in life. Actually, what I see in him today is intelligence, cat-like agility, and talent to connect with others. I liked reading about his childhood. He was clever and resourcefu
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6,933 followers
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.
“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.” 725 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.” 643 likes
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