Born a Crime - Trevor Noah

Born a Crime

By Trevor Noah

  • Release Date: 2016-11-15
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
5 Score: 5 (From 919 Ratings)


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed

Michiko Kakutani, New York TimesNewsdayEsquire • NPR • Booklist

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. 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. 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.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Praise for Born a Crime

 “[A] compelling new memoir . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah’s] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . 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.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“[An] unforgettable memoir.”Parade

 “What makes Born a Crime such a soul-nourishing pleasure, even with all its darker edges and perilous turns, is reading Noah recount in brisk, warmly conversational prose how he learned to negotiate his way through the bullying and ostracism. . . . What also helped was having a mother like Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah. . . . Consider Born a Crime another such gift to her—and an enormous gift to the rest of us.”—USA Today

“[Noah] thrives with the help of his astonishingly fearless mother. . . . Their fierce bond makes this story soar.”—People

“[Noah’s] electrifying memoir sparkles with funny stories . . . and his candid and compassionate essays deepen our perception of the complexities of race, gender, and class.”Booklist (starred review)

“A gritty memoir . . . studded with insight and provocative social criticism . . . with flashes of brilliant storytelling and acute observations.”Kirkus Reviews


  • Fast read

    By fgianakos
    Book was at times riveting, I simply was not able to put it down.
  • Eye-opening and inspirational

    By Katia Oh
    I really enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down! Before this, I thought Trevor came from a well-off family and led a privileged life! What a story! My favorite part was the dance performance in the Jewish school - it really shows how wrong we are to assume what "common knowledge" is. This is a well-written book that provides a glimpse into someone's life, a glimpse that is both relatable and yet hard to imagine at times. Much love to Trevor's mom - she is the best!
  • thanks for g

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  • Funny and sad all at the same time

    By FaithFilled&Thankful75!
    Thank you Trevor for sharing your truth.
  • Trevor Noah: Miracle Man

    By Bob Shearer
    A stunning work by a man whose mother generated miracles, not the least of whom is Trevor Noah. Now it is clear how he can critique shameful politicians with such grace and cheer. Thank you!
  • BoOg's Review

    By Dhjdjddj
    It was tastier than FiSh!
  • Illogic of racism as told by Trevor's life

    By neuronetix
    Funny, bizarre, mind bending, extreme, sublime. Everybody should read this.
  • Super Book! loved it

    By Shafik ismail
    Wow! what a memory jogger..Thank You.
  • Great read

    By allnicknamesaretaken99
    Gripping stories and a true chronically of a slice of history in that part of the world otherwise easily forgotten. Well worth the read.
  • Interesting read

    By Ecstatic99
    I was pleasantly surprised as I read this book. It was very well written and it was interesting to read about Trevor's experience in South Africa as a mixed race young man. He was able to share South Africa from his vantage point & experience the "privileges" of being white & experience the injustice of being black. I loved the strength and the tenacity of his mother & the lessons that she always taught him. I really didn't want the story to end. However, I am so glad the ending turned out the way that it did. I'm looking forward to more books by Trevor and to follow his journey.