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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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