Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah


Although I’ve barely watched The Daily Show, I had seen Trevor Noah in a clip or two on Facebook and knew I liked him. This book solidified that feeling, and listening to him actually tell the story made me feel like I knew him as a friend.bornacrime

This was my first time listening to a book on tape and let me say, this will have to be the way I listen to *all* autobiographies from now on. This is also perhaps the first time I’ve ever read/listened to an autobiography, or a biography, for that matter. I’m really not big into non-fiction, so having a book on tape to listen to on my commute helped me dip my toes into the genre.

Since this is one of the first autobiographies I’ve ever read, I don’t know how to compare it to others, and I don’t know what the ‘norm’ is for them. So while Born a Crime felt more like a collection of scattered childhood stories than anything cohesive, I’m assuming that’s what most autobiographies are; a glimpse into the major recollections of someone’s life. Sometimes the stories were short and sweet, sometimes they were silly, and others, like the story about Trevor meeting his father again after years of separation, were enough to make me cry. And don’t get me started on the ending. Born a Crime is, more than anything, Noah’s powerful ode to his fiercely religious, fiery, devoted, loving mother.

Noah covered a lot of ground—apartheid, racism, sexism, classism, and about a billion other isms—and explained things in a way that was easy for a dumby like me to understand while never talking down to the reader/listener. Before beginning this I knew only the very basics of apartheid—I knew very little of what it was or how it impacted life in South Africa, and although I’m by no means an expert on it now, I know more now than I did before, and that’s always good. Any book that can teach you something about the world is worthwhile.

Still, Noah didn’t really go into how he got where he is now, being a host on The Daily Show. There were a few mentions on how he had begun touring the South Africa and doing comedy routines, but he never actually told us how he got into that position, or how he decided to become a comedian. These insights would have taken the book from being a collection of memories and transformed it into something bigger.

I gave this four stars because of the nonlinear approach it took to storytelling. Though all of the stories were entertaining, few of them connected in a bigger way, so occasionally after a particularly short, seemingly pointless snippet (there were a few of these at the end of chapters or in the middle of two longer stories) I would think, “Okay, and…?” Still, it was heartfelt and fun to listen to (and made me cry twice), and I would definitely recommend the audiobook to anybody.


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