Title: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Author: Trevor Noah
Narrator: Trevor Noah
Length: 9 hours (289 pages)
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: November 15, 2016
Source: Audible subscription
Content Warnings: domestic abuse, racism, gun violence, alcoholism, animal cruelty and death
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 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.
I knew this would not be a typical celebrity memoir, but WOW. I did not expect to feel so utterly horrified, yet hilariously entertained, and ultimately learn so much. Trevor Noah describes his experiences growing up in South Africa during and after apartheid. Noah faced unique challenges as a mixed-race kid raised by a Black family because he did not neatly fit into the racially divided society. His mother was a strong, complicated, ahead-of-her-time woman.
I need to read more books like this, that help me understand cultures, societies, and family dynamics that are so different from my own experiences. My only complaint is that the timeline jumped around a lot, so I’m quite clear on the overall sequence of events in Trevor Noah’s life. I also would’ve liked to know more about how he got into a comedy career (it was barely touched upon).
Highly recommend the audiobook if you have Audible!