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Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

Stories from a South African Childhood

2016, Speigel & Grau

I just finished reading this book (summer vacation 2019 book 2) one minute ago. (Well, that was true when I began writing…) Since my daughter Julia wants to read it, I'm going to type quickly so I can pass it along.

I already have a backlog of books I’ve read in the last few months, not to mention throughout the last few or many years, so I'll try to get right to the point.

I highly recommend this autobiographical book by Trevor Noah, who also happens to be one of my favorite comedians. I don’t really think of him as a comedian even though he is hilarious. For me, he’s more of a news provider.

Anyway, in his book, he talks about growing up as a colored person (his mother is black and his father white) in South Africa, at a time when his mere existence was a crime since it was illegal for whites and blacks to have sex. Trevor introduces you to his confident, determined and miraculously alive mother whom he credits for his becoming a man, plus many of his friends including Hitler the dancer, and a mate from his short stay in prison.

I like Trevor's way of seeking out the humanity in people, evidenced in this passage:

« Nelson Mandela once said, « If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. » He was so right. When you make the effort to speak someone else’s language, even if it’s just basic phrases here and there, you are saying to them, « I understand that you have a culture and identity that exists beyond me. I see you as a human being. »

Spiegel & Grau Trade Paperback Edition, 2019, p. 236

Painful yet humorous, Trevor Noah’s touching memoir offers many insights and life lessons. I hope you'll get a chance to read it.


Check out this video of Trevor's acceptance speech for the Leadership in Democracy award, USA, October, 2019.

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May 25, 2020

Have you seen The Daily Show where Trevor Noah takes a camera crew to South Africa and talks to his grandmother about apartheid?


May 25, 2020

I enjoyed your comments Eunha and Blessing.


Blessing Okoro
Blessing Okoro
May 14, 2020

I love this BOOK! What a coincidence! we read it the same time (summer of 2019 :)

For me, I visited South Africa just by reading Trevor Noah's book...

You know, it was emotional and funny, and then emotional and wow!

I love it! Thank you for your review, Kellie. It's AMAZING!!!


I thoroughly enjoyed this book too, even laughing out loud at certain parts. I was amazed at the resilience and strength of Trevor Noah’s mother. What a testament to « where there’s a will, there’s a way ». He admires and cherishes her so much and that permeates throughout the memoir. Also, the point he mentions about the necessity to give the underprivileged the means to extract themselves out of their situation for better is so true. Teaching a man how to fish instead of just giving him a fish to eat helps immensely but only if he has a fishing rod to fish with.

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