Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

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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 memorists: 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.

About Trevor Noah

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TREVOR NOAH is the host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Daily Show. He first joined the show as a contributor in 2014 and succeeded Jon Stewart as host in 2015. While The Daily Show has introduced Noah to an American audience, he’s long been a popular comedian around the globe. Born in South Africa to a black South African mother and a white European father, Noah rose improbably to stardom with The Racist, his one-man show at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which enjoyed a sold-out run and became one of the most talked-about shows at the festival that year. He made his US television debut that year on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has also appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, becoming the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on either late-night program.
Author Residence: New York
Author Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa
Published November 15, 2016 by Spiegel & Grau. 224 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Unrated Critic Reviews for Born a Crime

Kirkus Reviews

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The host of The Daily Show reflects on his tumultuous South African childhood.

Nov 01 2016 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime

Publishers Weekly

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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

Oct 28 2016 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime

The New York Times

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His memoir provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid, and the country’s entry into a postapartheid era.

Nov 28 2016 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime

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Michiko Kakutani: 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

Dec 01 2016 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime

Book Reporter

Noah says that “my mother showed me what was possible,” but what was remarkable was that “no one showed her.” With the remnants of apartheid only slowly crumbling, and life’s necessities always just slightly out of reach, she inspired Noah to stay out of the ghetto, reject the ghetto mentality, a...

Nov 22 2016 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime

Christian Science Monitor

(Noah made the case that the “inept and self-serving” Zuma and Trump appear to be “brothers from another mother.”) Noah’s new memoir, the rollicking yet tender Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, provides further indication that Noah’s is a necessary voice for these times.

Dec 16 2016 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime

USA Today

As Noah writes, “In any society built on institutionalized racism, race-mixing doesn’t merely challenge the system as unjust, it reveals the system as unsustainable and incoherent…Because a mixed person embodies that rebuke…race-mixing becomes a crime worse than treason.”.

Nov 14 2016 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime

20Something Reads

His father, who never married his mother despite his avowed anti-racism, was a very private person, and gladly saw his son on weekends and Christmas, but walked on the other side of the street when the “family” went out “together.” In this through-the-looking-glass ambiance, Noah suffered for his...

Dec 19 2016 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime


A chapter on extreme churchgoing — Noah’s mother dragged him to services four nights a week, plus three on Sunday — features an episode of hitchhiking and ends with Noah and his Mom jumping from a moving car.

Nov 11 2016 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime

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.

Nov 15 2016 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime


The votes are in for Hypable’s inaugural Show of the Month, and the winning show ran away with the crown in a landslide.

Dec 19 2016 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime


He got into trouble — he even broke the law — but he experienced life and all the ups and downs that comes with it.

Jun 25 2015 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime


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.

May 29 2015 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime


Born a Crime documents the way he viewed the world and used his situation to his advantage while living in South Africa.

Oct 28 2014 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime


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.

Nov 05 2015 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime

The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning host of the Daily Show, Noah was indeed "born a crime" in apartheid South Africa.

Jun 15 2016 | Read Full Review of Born a Crime

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