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Born a Crime : Stories from a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah


Overview -
One of the comedy world’s fastest-rising stars tells his wild coming of age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Noah provides something deeper than traditional memoirists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives.
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More About Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
 
 
 
Overview

One of the comedy world’s fastest-rising stars tells his wild coming of age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Noah provides something deeper than traditional memoirists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives.

Trevor Noah is the host of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, where he gleefully provides America with its nightly dose of serrated satire. He is a light-footed but cutting observer of the relentless absurdities of politics, nationalism, and race—and in particular the craziness of his own young life, which he’s lived at the intersections of culture and history.

In his first book, Noah tells his coming of age story with his larger-than-life mother during the last gasps of apartheid-era South Africa and the turbulent years that followed. Noah was born illegal—the son of a white, Dutch father and a black Xhosa mother, who had to pretend to be his nanny or his father’s servant in the brief moments when the family came together. His brilliantly eccentric mother loomed over his life—a comically zealous Christian (they went to church six days a week and three times on Sunday), a savvy hustler who kept food on their table during rough times, and an aggressively involved, if often seriously misguided, parent who set Noah on his bumpy path to stardom.

The stories Noah tells are sometimes dark, occasionally bizarre, frequently tender, and always hilarious—whether he’s subsisting on caterpillars during months of extreme poverty or making comically pitiful attempts at teenage romance in a color-obsessed world; whether’s he’s being thrown into jail as the hapless fall guy for a crime he didn’t commit or being thrown by his mother from a speeding car driven by murderous gangsters.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780399588174
  • ISBN-10: 0399588175
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
  • Publish Date: November 2016
  • Page Count: 304
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Humor > Form - Essays
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs
Books > Performing Arts > Comedy

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-10-31
  • Reviewer: Staff

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 Noahs birth, its legacy lived on in the countrys nigh-inescapable ghettos and perpetual racial conflicts, continuing to affect his life as he came of age. Noahs story is the story of modern South Africa; though he enjoyed some privileges of the regions 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 books 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. (Nov.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Host of "The Daily Show" pens an unflinching memoir

When Trevor Noah succeeded Jon Stewart as host of “The Daily Show” last year, the 32-year-old South African comedian had huge shoes to fill. Could he prove himself a worthy successor? Who was he, anyway? In his fascinating memoir, Born a Crime, we get to know Comedy Central’s import, and the evidence is clear: Challenges are nothing new to Noah.

Born in 1984 to a Swiss father and a black mother, Noah was living proof that his parents had violated the law forbidding “illicit” relationships between whites and blacks. His mixed looks marked him as an outsider. Growing up without his father, he moved with his fearless, fanatical mother between the black and white townships near Johannesburg, rarely feeling accepted anywhere. Poverty precluded any hope of escape.  

Engaging and insightful, Born a Crime is not a rags-to-riches story; the memoir ends before Noah finds success. Instead, the book reveals the hard details of a grim life: a mother and son who, together, survived the cruelties of apartheid and domestic violence. Ironically, today it is Noah’s perspective as an outsider that serves him so well in his starring role in U.S. comedy.

 

This article was originally published in the December 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews