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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.
233 pages, Kindle Edition
First published November 15, 2016
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.
As an aside, special shout out to his Ma, Patricia, whom I understand will be played by Lupita in the upcoming movie adaptation, and while I like Lupita enough, I believe she is unsuited for this role as she herself must well know. South African women have a certain look which is def not Lupita and it would be a shame for Trevor to cede control of casting simply because she was the first person to contact him about movie options. Just saying.
Overall, Born a Crime is an important piece of literature that provides a young man's view of the effects of apartheid, the family dynamic that devolved from being born a crime, and the power of a mother's love.
”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…”
"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
"In America you had the forced removal of the native onto reservations coupled with slavery followed by segregation. Imagine all three of those things happening to the same group of people at the same time. That was apartheid."
"We tell people to follow their dreams" he says,"but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited."
“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.”