#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 • USA Today • San Francisco Chronicle • NPR • Esquire • Newsday • 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
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
As the son of a black woman and a white man, The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah was an affront to South Africa's Apartheid government. But Noah's mom is a formidable figure, and the TV host’s recollections of childhood are inextricably bound to her fearless determination and sometimes crazy antics. With his trademark comedic wit, Noah navigates the heartbreaking realities of growing up in a racist regime. From caterpillars for dinner to the angst of high school dating, this unconventional coming-of-age story is as touching as it is amusing.
Having thoroughly mined his South African upbringing in his standup comedy and monologues on The Daily Show, Noah here tells the whole story in this witty and revealing autobiography. Born to a black African mother and a white Swedish father, Noah violated the Immorality Act of 1927, which outlawed interracial relationships. Though apartheid ended a decade after Noah's birth, its legacy lived on in the country's nigh-inescapable ghettos and perpetual racial conflicts, continuing to affect his life as he came of age. Noah's story is the story of modern South Africa; though he enjoyed some privileges of the region's slow Westernization, his formative years were shaped by poverty, injustice, and violence. Noah is quick with a disarming joke, and he skillfully integrates the parallel narratives via interstitial asides between chapters to explain the finer details of African culture and history for the uninformed. Perhaps the most harrowing tales are those of his abusive stepfather, which form the book's final act (and which Noah cleverly foreshadows throughout earlier chapters), but equally prominent are the laugh-out-loud yarns about going to the prom, and the differences between "White Church" and "Black Church."
Customer ReviewsSee All
An imperative read
This book is thoughtful, insightful, and deeply touching. In 2016, this is a book that I think can teach everybody, of every color, something new yet horrific about the world we live in. A sobering read, but ultimately rewarding and optimistic. Wonderful prose. Think of the last time you read a book written by a person of color (if you're not one yourself) and then commit to widening your horizons here.
Born a Crime
It's been a long while since I've read such a moving, mind inspiring book. Trevor Noah is a real person who has lived life and experienced, very personally, the pain and joy of a full life, taking with him hard lessons and never becoming a victim. kudos!