Book review of Trevor Noah’s “Born a crime”


Being a fan of late night comedy talk shows, I am a fan of many fine speakers like Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers. My favorite though is Trevor Noah, a South African comedian, who hosts the “Daily Show” on Comedy Central. What has impressed me most about Trevor is how he goes beyond mere slapstick comedy and puts in some emotion and character into the news so that it is more relatable. Recently he published his first book “Born a crime – Stories from a South African childhood” and in many ways it is even more impressive than his talk show.

Trevor Noah was born in South Africa during the apartheid regime when state sponsored racism against black people was rampant. The title “Born a crime” comes from the fact he was born to a black mother but a white father in the times where inter-racial sex was punishable by law.

This ‘crime’ results in a childhood filled with cat and mouse encounters where Trevor’s mother tries to hide him from the society which could take him way at any moment. South Africa’s tyrannical white rule is lifted when Trevor is still a child. Suddenly exposed to the new free world, the mischievous and restless young spirit inside him sets forth to hustle and grab every opportunity that comes his away; all with the support and encouragement of his fearless and rebellious mother whose relationship with her son forms the foundation of this book.

Autobiographies or self memoirs is not my preferred genre, but this book has a very refreshing and serene feel to it right from the first chapter. The book is filled with candid and expressive stories, ranging from setting up a pirated CD shop, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, dealing with an abusive step-father, to pitfalls of high school dating and many more.

This could have turned out to be a grim and sad narrative. But every story sparkles with Trevor’s incisive wit and subtle sense of humor elevating them to a moving but still enjoyable read. What impressed me was how Trevor goes about narrating important incidences in his life instead of just going in a chronological fashion which could induce boredom.

The book paints a very heartfelt and sometimes deeply moving portrait of a witty young man faced with racism and abuse, but with the adventurous spirit to rise above it. If you are looking for some storytelling which is compelling and humorous, have a read guys !