Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

By Trevor Noah

Recommended on: 12th June 2020

We watched Trevor Noah’s thoughtful video take on George Floyd, the Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery, and Amy Cooper, and were inspired to read Noah’s autobiography, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. Wow! This riveting book describes how, due to miscegenation laws in South Africa, Noah really was born a criminal—blacks and whites were not supposed to be mixing under apartheid in South Africa. Lucky for us, Trevor’s miraculous mother deliberately chose to break the law. We won’t tell you how or why because we’d be spoiling the story.

The long and the short of it is that Noah is, quite simply, one of the most masterful story-tellers around.  He describes the great value of language—a gifted linguist, Noah could use his ability to understand the essence of how people spoke to in turn speak with them. “I became a chameleon. My color didn’t change, but I could change your perception of my color. If you spoke to me in Zulu, I replied to you in Zulu. If you spoke to me in Tswana, I replied to you in Tswana. Maybe I didn’t look like you, but if I spoke like you, I was you.” Noah truly understands and conveys the horrors of domestic violence, and perhaps most importantly, from our perspective, he describes the often appalling lack of educational opportunities for children born into poverty.  This is truly a great book by an extraordinary writer—also a terrific book for audio listening. (Noah’s subtle South African accent is almost magnetically listenable.)