Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm a fan of Trevor Noah's, even though I've not seen any of his Daily Show stuff. I watched the first episode but never followed up. It's not that I have been a hold out because I miss John Stewart, I just never really went out of my way to watch him either. I’ve always enjoyed his standup. One routine had me laughing so hard I nearly fell off the treadmill laughing. This memoir is magical as an audiobook and at this point I don't just slap 5 stars on any old thing. Trevor Noah has a delightful voice in general but when he speaks as his younger self to his mother it’s downright adorable.
The book chronicles his youth in South Africa towards the end of apartheid. He chronicles his time in school and how race played a part in everything he tried to do in life. With the way the races were segregated in South Africa there was nowhere for him to fit in. He discusses church-hopping with his mother and hustling pirated music to people desperate for something new. He also takes you through the details of the violence he and his family endured at the hands of his step-father. When describing grief (and I’m paraphrasing here), he describes a specific kind of grief that I’ve personally felt like this: “I cried so hard that it made every other time I cried seem like a waste of crying.” He explains visceral grief with humor and humility in a way that even though you know how it feels, you find yourself chuckling along with him.
The main take away from this memoir is that Noah is a born storyteller. He has a unique way of bouncing from time to time and place to place in seemingly haphazard manner that ends up paying off in the end. The memoir is charming, funny, touching, and fascinating. Noah has led what some would consider an extraordinary life, but he presents it as though it is the most normal life in the world. I’ve included a link below to a transcript of an NPR interview that he did which adds a little more to the story as well. I highly recommend you check this one out.
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