Born a Crime

Born a Crime Summary

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • More than one million copies sold! A “brilliant” (Lupita Nyong’o, Time), “poignant” (Entertainment Weekly), “soul-nourishing” (USA Today) memoir about coming of age during the twilight of apartheid
“Noah’s childhood stories are told with all the hilarity and intellect that characterizes his comedy, while illuminating a dark and brutal period in South Africa’s history that must never be forgotten.”—Esquire
Winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor and an NAACP Image Award • Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Time, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Esquire, Newsday, and Booklist

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Showbegan 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.

Book Reviews

Ms Swiss

Truly great book5 star

Excellent, emotional read .55


Motherhood5 star

It was my second time reading this book. I loved it more than I did the first time. I teared up, again. This book contains a beautiful meaning; that meaning is the love we have for our mothers. A mother’s love is unique and indefinite. I totally recommend reading this memoir!55


Absolutely fantastic5 star

I could not put this book down. I didn’t know much of anything about apartheid before reading this and am now very intrigued to learn more. The difference in experiences between races and being born a crime because he is mixed are so tragic, and Noah tells his own story in a very captivating manner. Now I’d love to listen to the audiobook to hear it in his own words. Highly recommend.55


Highly recommend5 star

Well written and very entertaining. I learned a lot about Trevor Noah and how growing up in a post Apartheid SA shaped the man he is today.55


Terrible1 star

Trevor Noah is trash15


Wow! What a life story!!5 star

I’ve always enjoyed Trevor Noah’s intelligent comedy but I see him completely differently after reading Born a Crime. The respect & admiration I have for him has grown immeasurably. And his mama…there are no words to describe her that do her true justice. Patricia is in a class of her own among strong, intelligent, determined, and loving women. I highly recommend this wonderful book. It’s incredibly captivating!55

Joe Merican

Infectious writing5 star

This book was very compelling and interesting. I gained quite alot of insight into apartheid and the culture at the time. I also heard that F W declerk just passed away recently.55


A great book5 star

I relate to his book on many levels. Everyone should read it, seriously.55

not over the hill gal

Couldn’t put it down5 star

He made me laugh and cry. I loved his insight into the many situations in which he found himself. I have always been a fan and now even more so.55


Excellent Book5 star

What an amazing story and so very well-written! Best story I’ve read in a long time.55

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