Born A Crime

Born A Crime

Stories From A South African Childhood

Book - 2016
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * 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

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times * Newsday * Esquire * NPR * Booklist

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 stories 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.

Praise for Born a Crime

"[A] compelling new memoir . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah's] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah's family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author's remarkable mother." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"[An] unforgettable memoir." -- Parade

"What makes Born a Crime such a soul-nourishing pleasure, even with all its darker edges and perilous turns, is reading Noah recount in brisk, warmly conversational prose how he learned to negotiate his way through the bullying and ostracism. . . . What also helped was having a mother like Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah. . . . Consider Born a Crime another such gift to her--and an enormous gift to the rest of us." --USA Today

"[Noah] thrives with the help of his astonishingly fearless mother. . . . Their fierce bond makes this story soar." --People

"[Noah's] electrifying memoir sparkles with funny stories . . . and his candid and compassionate essays deepen our perception of the complexities of race, gender, and class." -- Booklist (starred review)

"A gritty memoir . . . studded with insight and provocative social criticism . . . with flashes of brilliant storytelling and acute observations." -- Kirkus Reviews
Publisher: New York :, Spiegel & Grau,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780399588174
0399588175
Call Number: 791.4502 N661a
Characteristics: x, 288 pages ; 25 cm

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From Library Staff

List - Ortega Book Club
SFPL_OrtegaLib Sep 03, 2015

Join us to discuss this book on December 16 at 11am.

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.

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.


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dnlle
Oct 16, 2017

This compelling memoir by Trevor Noah is a collection of stories from his childhood while growing up in South Africa during and after apartheid. These stories give insight into his personal life, as well as the culture and history of South Africa. Covering many serious issues - including racism, poverty, and abuse - Noah’s memoir is funny, insightful, and heartfelt.

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LPL_Sarah
Oct 09, 2017

I went from, "Trevor Noah? You mean that handsome guy who took over for Jon Stewart?," to "Oh my God, how is he alive and able to tell this story and still remain calm and witty?!" A mesmerizing story. I could not put it down.

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LauraSteinert
Oct 02, 2017

How Noah can write about growing up under apartheid without anger, without demonizing the white people of South Africa, is beyond me. It takes little imagination to add in the details of the stresses his mother kept from him. Finding your place in a world where you are the only one of your kind is the main focus of this book. Very appropriate for teens of all colors, for adults, and for seniors who want to understand difference, struggle, and overcoming the insurmountable.

t
tkarlin
Sep 29, 2017

This is a great book for anyone and everyone, especially in 2017 when racisim is part of our daily national conversation. Trevor Noah explains the ridiculous, insane, cruel system that was apartheid in South Africa, and in the process of discussing that structure, helps the reader view through new, clearer eyes the current strained situation here in the U.S. Noah is so smart and funny that his humor makes reading about injustice and inequality accessible. His memoir reminded me a little of "Angela's Ashes" - wherein author Frank McCourt's descriptions of poverty in Ireland were tolerable because he was able to shine a light on the humor that could be found in their dire circumstances.

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lachmik
Sep 16, 2017

This book was hilarious. I loved it. You can read my full take on it at: https://bookswehaveread.com/2017/08/05/born-a-crime/

s
sarahdgamble
Sep 16, 2017

"Born a Crime" is a compelling, page-turning memoir, but how Noah turned to comedy as a career is never explored. His mother, though, has an in-depth portrayal. Her philosophy of life and her depth of faith is amazing. Noah also shares insights into his younger self, his family, and his culture. Since events are not told chronologically, the reader may sometimes get confused with what is happening when. Some chapters are abrupt but others are longer and more developed. Overall, though, his writing is humorous and sensitive subjects are handled skillfully.

p
pwatkins1212
Sep 15, 2017

Trevor’s spirit is poured carefully into a story of unfiltered truth, comedic genius, and uncanny empathy. It educates on the atrocities of apartheid and how burdens doubled by his poverty and cultural ambiguity served as starter fluid for a fire within that is as relentless as it is also creatively appealing to the forward thinker. One of my favorite quotes is, “it’s easier to be insider as outsider than it is to be outsider as an insider” because it does well in describing the place from which Trevor’s cultural sensitivity and empathy were spawn. It also iteraites the very fact that racism is an artificial and divisive construct.

There is practically no simpler way to explain Noah’s love for his mother than by saying it is deep and abiding. As the starring character Noah’s mother is the quintessential superhero who while dealing with a host of foes (Trevor included) maintains the wherewithal to [literally] love fearlessly and courageously.

Noah’s story calls the reader to a place of deep reflection on matters of the heart while also challenging one to consider the quality of self awareness. What I ended up taking from the book was a deepened understanding of what it means to be a "cultural chameleon" and what it means to choose to see the goodness in people in moments their absolute highest devilry. I found Trevor's giftedness in compassion and empathy to have a distinct recalibrating quality.

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EmilyEm
Sep 09, 2017

Trevor Noah was an anomaly and outsider as a mixed-race child in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. His mother was a force of nature, an outsider in her own way, a believer in tough love, but with a big, big heart.

Wow. I’ve heard him interviewed and wanted to read his stories. What contradictions he lived with and has seemingly thrived from none the less. Inspiring. Loved the stories where his knowledge of languages was a huge benefit.

c
carolastern
Aug 07, 2017

Enjoyed reading his story. Great hussle story, everybody's got one.
As a child my dad had to pick up dried buffalo turds in North Dakota in order
to have fuel to burn in the iron stove of the familys mud turf house with a dirt floor~1925 in the good ole USA.

r
Roundcat
Aug 06, 2017

Having heard Trevor Noah on NPR programs, I was interested in reading this book. It was a mind opening experience. His writing style is in the great tradition of storytelling, where one essay/chapter builds the foundation information to make the next ones rich in background material and yet each one is a jewel in itself.

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green_turtle_2159
Sep 21, 2017

green_turtle_2159 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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wrtrchk
Apr 04, 2017

wrtrchk thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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shayshortt
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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shayshortt
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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