When my Book Club selected Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, I was excited because I literally knew nothing about him besides the fact that he is the current host of The Daily Show (which I am a fan of but do not watch, if that makes sense?). Memoirs, especially celebrity/comedian memoirs, are not my usual go-to genre but Book Club is for reading books you wouldn’t normally choose. So I came in with an open mind and boy-oh-boy was a pleasantly surprised!
Born a Crime is powerful, important, and at times humorous but also heartbreaking… it covers a full range of emotions! The story cover Noah’s experience growing up mixed race in South Africa at the end of Apartheid. As the title implies, Noah is born a crime: his mother is black and his father is white, which during Apartheid was illegal. Noah takes on the massive task of not only sharing his and his family’s unique life experiences but also explaining the complex history of race in South Africa. To achieve his goal, Noah cleverly uses his own experiences ie. being “white” in a black family, navigating the social scene of his school. The memoir could have tipped the scale to either too much funny and not enough fact or vice versa but in my opinion Noah provided the perfect mix.
The memoir read like a compilation of short stories, there was a common thread holding them all together but there was only a loose linear timeline. As well, IMHO numerous of the books funniest and most memorable stories read like comedic bits; there is no way “Go Hitler” was not taken directly from Noah’s standup comedy! That’s probably why so many of the stories were well crafted and read like Noah was speaking them. The book wasn’t just for laughs, it brought up many very complex issues. I even finished the book fully crying on my lunch break at work!
I loved the book, and so did my Book Club. Honestly, it was a Book Club/Friendsgiving so with the wine flowing our conversation went all over! We had great discussions about the differences and similarities to race in the USA and South Africa, religion in colonized countries, of course the numerous funny incidents! Though some of us wanted more info on how he got to being the host of The Daily Show, we just assume that will be in his second book! I didn’t think a memoir would spark such fruitful book talk, but this one did! Bravo, Trevor Noah! I couldn’t recommend Born a Crime more, I truly feel like it’s a book everyone would enjoy.
- Title: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
- Author: Trevor Noah
- Published: November 15, 2016 (Spiegel & Grau)
- Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
- Booky Nooky Rating: * * * *