Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Professional Reader

I received a free e-copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Netgalley!

Born a Crime is the very funny but very hard hitting autobiography of Trevor Noah, the South African comedian who grew up during the fall of apartheid. As a mixed race person, Trevor’s conception was illegal and his childhood was an incredible series of tricks and scams to avoid detection and survive in a country which was being politically ripped apart.

It was so interesting to learn more about South Africa during that period of time from someone who had lived through it. Being roughly the same age as Trevor, I was blissfully unaware of the situation there and so to get a first person account was a real eye opener.

Unlike many “celebrity” memoirs this one was a series of (to my western eyes) amazing and terrifying events, based in a culture totally alien to me. Obviously as a comedian there are lots of funny moments but through it all is an underlying gritty desperation to survive through a childhood marred by poverty, corruption and abuse. Despite the difficult situations that Trevor describes nothing comes across as sensationalist and his matter of fact style of writing prevents any form of self pity.

A dominating presence in Trevor’s life was his mother, who comes across as one of the strongest women on the planet. I literally couldn’t believe what kind of a life she had had. It was heartwarming to see their unconventional relationship and her in insistence on instilling in Trevor the correct way to respect other people, particularly women. Her attitude to life was completely inspiring and went to show that no matter how little you have, by having faith in yourself you can achieve anything.

Born a Crime is a great book to read, not only as an interesting memoir but also as a first hand account of South Africa pre and post apartheid. I felt that I had learnt a lot after finishing it , as well as being thoroughly entertained.

Overall rating: 8/10.

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