#1 NEW YORK TIMESBESTSELLER • 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 PASTE’S BEST MEMOIRS OF THE DECADE • 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 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.
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
The life Mr. Noah leads now would never have been possible without the life he lead in his early years. As a Christian, I thought his early experience might sour him on religion. Who knows: maybe it did. But his life under an abusive older person is very familiar to me and I can only thank God that both of us came through the other side of it with a semblance of normalcy. I thank him for his story wish him and all he loves nothing but the best.55
I loved this book. If you also get to listen to the audio book told in Trevor's own voice, this will add a new depth to the story-telling experience. I laughed out loud at many points in this autobiographical account. I even "Google-Earthed" the locations he described as he went along, to get an actual virtual experience of all places referenced. I do agree with one other reviewer that he could have left out the occasional profanity, but the story overall was so awesome, intriguing, honest and unique--with Trevor fluidly maneuvering through local dialects and languages and timely comic relief--you still will greatly enjoy this read.55
Trevor, I recognized you as both extremely clever and funny but I never realized before reading your story that you are truly a brilliant person as well! The only reservation that I have with your Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood and having a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss/German father in apartheid South Africa, is that you have already told me the most wonderful and amazing story of your life and that you are only 32! Even though this book will reverberate well into the future, it should be read by everyone now because of the values that it sets for us. While this is the factual story of your beginnings, it quickly becomes apparent that your mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, is the major force in your life and a most powerful voice for women, who has set the bar high for mothers around the world. The uniqueness of your genetic origins, the place and time of your birth, your keen powers of observation, the diversity that your mother exposed you to and your superior storytelling abilities have all come together to create a fitting parable at a time in history when good ones are so dearly needed. If you will excuse my expression, it is a wonderfully colorful tale for our time. My review specifically avoids your detailed descriptions of the hardened environments that you endured and the weight of your experiences in growing up under such circumstances in order to not distract from the charm of your personal style that always carries the day. As you weave in the realities of appearance, culture, law and stereotypical references, you display the talents of a sophisticated young artist with a global palate and a style that's extremely impressive. Your descriptions of the importance of traditions, multiple languages and the realities of these experiences are set in a world context. I look forward to hearing more about the people of your life in an eloquent prose that is so uniquely you; I am very impressed! Bob Magnant writes Apple Books about the iPhone Internet era and is the author of ‘The Last Transition…’, a fact-based novel about Iran politics, globalization, the Internet and US policy in the Middle East…55
Seldom does a book keep me enraptured from page to page, but Trevor’s brilliant stories and endless capers were salve for the soul.55
Knowing that this happened as I grew up left me speechless. I told my mom about the book, she remember how she used to cry over the news of the civil war in SA as we grew up. The way Noah, brought everything to life in a truthful yet light tone... It is a most read!55
Well written and engaging. Trevor is a good man who has overcome incredible odds. A bit long at times but worth the read. Bravo.45
A true and honest story about growing up and the relationship between a mother and Son .55
This book is fantastic. I didn’t think it was possible to love Trevor more, but I was mistaken. The perspective he has on life and family is a breath of fresh air.55