Born A Crime

Born A Crime

Stories From A South African Childhood

Book - 2016
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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 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 earliest 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, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man's relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother--his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. 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, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love.
Publisher: Toronto :, Doubleday Canada,, 2016, ©2016.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780385689229
Branch Call Number: 792. 7028092 NOA N
Characteristics: x, 288 pages : illustration ; 25 cm.


From Library Staff

List - Laughing Out Loud
Liesel_C Jul 24, 2017

The bestselling autobiography by South African comedian and host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah. "Born A Crime" describes Noah's childhood in post-apartheid South Africa, the child of a white father and black mother in a country where it was a crime for him to be born as a mixed-race ba... Read More »

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Jan 17, 2019

Loved this book more that I thought I would. You could hear Trevor's voice in his writing telling the tales of his incredible yet at times tragic upbringing. Highly recommend this book to everyone.

Gina_Vee Jan 12, 2019

This book was beautifully written. It was funny, raw, and highly "woke" worthy for adult readers. Trevor Noah pulls you into a very illustrated version of his backstory, and he's not afraid to be himself and be fully honest while doing so. Great read!

ArapahoeJulieD Jan 09, 2019

Trevor Noah manages to tackle tough topics, from the mechanics of apartheid and racism in South Africa to stories of his childhood antics, with deep contemplation, eloquence, and not a small amount of humor. I recommend experiencing this book via the audiobook so that you can listen to Trevor's exceptional narration!

Jan 04, 2019

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah was a book that I could never put down! I usually step away from the autobiographies but this book was a beauty in itself. About a boy living and being raised in South Africa where Apartied (racism/segregation) was a huge deal, and he himself was a crime. Being a product from an African mother and a European father, he himself was an outlier in the apartied world. This book tells the story of him growing up in this social climate, being raised by his mother, and how his life unravels over the years even though he was born a crime in the eyes of the law. This book brought so much emotion and intensity to my senses that this book I could say is one of the best that I have ever come to read, him retelling the stories of his childhood and teenage years is one that many including I can succumb and relate too. Reading this book is like him sitting adjacent from you just catching up on old memories on his life and just listening to the stories that made him who he is today, especially when he comes to tell the tale of his friendship with his mother, now that! made me cry. This book is without a doubt an exceptional book done by Noah incorporating the history of his country, and his life stories into one captivating book! Rating: 5 out of 5
@PocketFullOfBooks22 of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Jan 01, 2019

This was intense. I'm not usually an autobiography reader but I was recommended to this book and I'm glad I got to read it. It was eye-opening, sad, hilarious and almost too crazy for me to believe at times. The amount of privilege I've grown up with without even realizing continues to be revealed by reading books like these.I would highly recommend this book.

Nov 06, 2018

History lesson and comedy rolled into one. If you like Trevor Noah, you'll like this book for sure.

Oct 12, 2018

The greatest compliment I can ever give a book is this: when I'm forced to put it down to do other things, all I want to do is go back to reading. I kicked myself for leaving it at work when I could have been reading at home.

There aren't really words to describe this book; it's a memoir and a social history and a comedy and a drama all at once. Just read it. Even if you don't know anything about his work as a comedian or in television, it's a worthwhile read.

Oct 09, 2018

A celebrity is telling me about his life, his dogs, his first kiss. He vividly describes his home country. He confides in me the story of how his mother got shot. I’ve never met this celebrity before, but I have seen his YouTube videos and stand up comedies on Netflix.

Today I have his book in my hands. I start reading and suddenly I hear his voice. I can hear the intonations, the long pauses. It is one of the strangest feelings ever, but in my brain Trevor Noah is reading his book to me.

I consider myself a slow reader; yet I finished Trevor’s book in less than a week. The book begins by setting the scene with a short history lesson, which is helpful to understand the stories that follow. Page by page I feel closer to Trevor’s reality as a child and his experience growing up in a country where the government did everything possible to separate humans by their skin color (sounds familiar?).

It may sound like a serious book, but do not get me wrong, you will laugh your ass off and people around you will look at you in a funny way. You may also cry.

Most of the time we enclose ourselves in a bubble; we live within comfortable boundaries. We complain about rain, slow computers, no internet service or no Instagram likes. We are clueless about other people’s sufferings and the inhumane rules they are submitted to. We are unaware of what those in power want to keep quiet.

The first pages of this book are an eye-opener. You will doubt the burden of your problems. You will find out that some people transform this beautiful world into a cruel place. You will learn that many others struggle and come afloat despite the adversities thrown at them. There is hope.

Oct 09, 2018

Remarkable reflection of growing up in a country where biracial relationships were illegal. His life's story and personal struggles are written in a conversational tone which makes it an easy and fast read.

Sep 26, 2018

so I have so much t say. starting with how I read this book more than twice. Trevor is such an amazing guy. He had so many key points that I couldn't help but nod my head in agreement. He is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo handsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The way he was raised and HOW he was raised are so just mind blowing. I loveeeeedddddddddddddd the book. I recommend you read it. He did a great job on the book and I am just beyond words for this. I felt like he was putting himself out there by giving us detail what happened during his childhood. I love how close he is with his mother,its beautiful. his mom did a wonderful job in raising him and she is a great woman. Everyone can learn many things from this book. He is great and so is this book. LOVED IT. it deserves a million stars not just 5

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Mar 06, 2018

People thought my mom was crazy. Ice rinks and drive-ins and suburbs, these things were izinto zabelungu—the things of white people. So many black people had internalized the logic of apartheid and made it their own. Why teach a black child white things? Neighbors and relatives used to pester my mom. “Why do all this? Why show him the world when he’s never going to leave the ghetto?” “Because,” she would say, “even if he never leaves the ghetto, he will know that the ghetto is not the world. If that is all I accomplish, I’ve done enough.”

Mar 06, 2018

But the more we went to church and the longer I sat in those pews the more I learned about how Christianity works: If you’re Native American and you pray to the wolves, you’re a savage. If you’re African and you pray to your ancestors, you’re a primitive. But when white people pray to a guy who turns water into wine, well, that’s just common sense.

This quote could be titled 'Christianity, assimilate or else!'

Nov 18, 2017

"In the [neighbour]hood, even if you're not a hardcore criminal, crime is in your life in some way or another. There are degrees of it. ... The hood made me realized that crime succeeds because crime does the one thing the government doesn't do: crime cares. Crime is grassroots. Crime looks for the young kids who need support and a lifting hand. Crime offers internship programs and summer jobs and opportunities for advancement. Crime gets involved in the community. Crime doesn't discriminate." (p. 209)

Feb 21, 2017

The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.

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Mar 06, 2018

katboxjanitor thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Sep 21, 2017

green_turtle_2159 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Apr 04, 2017

wrtrchk thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Summary
Feb 21, 2017

When Trevor Noah was born in South Africa in 1984, his existence was literally illegal, proof that his black, Xhosa mother and his white, Swiss-German father had violated the Immorality Act of 1927, one of the many laws defining the system known as apartheid. The crime carried a punishment of four to five years in prison, and mixed race children were often seized and placed in state-run orphanages. But Noah’s mother was determined and clever, and she managed to hold onto her son, refusing to flee her home country in order to raise him. But it made his childhood complicated, even after apartheid officially ended in 1994. Racial hierarchies and inequities persisted, and despite receiving a good education, his upbringing was anything but easy. In a series of essays, Born a Crime chronicles Noah’s experience growing up under apartheid and its aftermath.


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