Born A Crime

Trevor Noah

Shelfie Score: 67%

Likeminded Reader Score: Login

Publisher: Hachette UK
Pages: 304


The New York Times Top 10 Bestseller The compelling, inspiring, (often comic) coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. One of the comedy world's brightest new voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of the US hit show The Daily Show...

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Savannah Wallace

This review was originally posted on my Tumblr book blog:

Born a Crime is an incredibly moving memoir by Trevor Noah (the current host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central in the U.S.) in which he recounts growing up biracial/mix-race during-and-post apartheid in South Africa. I recommend this book to everyone I know as Trevor is a fantastic storyteller. Not only are the stories and historical background fascinating, but I loved the way Trevor describes, at length, his loving but tenuous relationship with his mother.

As you can tell by my worn dust jacket, I’ve read Born a Crime twice because Trevor’s mother’s tough love approach to parenting was reminiscent of my mother’s style and it once again made me cry rivulets of tears.


I won't say that I'm a huge Trevor Noah fan. Honestly, I find him a bit inexperienced to be hosting The Daily Show (although he is improving). When this audiobook was first released, I was lukewarm...and then I fell for all the rave reviews and decided to give it a try.

And I'm so glad that I did. First of all, I prefer this Trevor Noah to the one on TV--not that I especially dislike him on The Daily Show, but I think his immaturity (for lack of a better word) works better when he is telling his own story than when he's doing satire of current events. I'm not going to say that I felt that Noah seems more mature after listening to his audiobook (he doesn't), but I felt that I was able to understand him a bit more.

I'm ashamed to admit that my knowledge of South Africa is limited. I knew about Apartheid, of course. However, I didn't realize how life was for non-white South Africans after Aprartheid ended (hint: it was not totally dissimilar to life for African Americans, especially in the south, in the pre-Civil Rights era). Noah is able to relate this world to the reader/listener with child-like innocence. Well, maybe not so innocent....

One thing that this memoir does not have--and I appreciate its absence--is that Noah doesn't tell us how he was able to go from post-Apartheid South Africa to the United States and, ultimately, the desk at The Daily Show. While this would have been expected, I think that its inclusion would have distracted from the central narrative (and, hey, it also gives Noah material for his next memoir!).

My only nitpick is that I would have organized some of the chapters a bit differently. I'm not saying that the organization of the book is "bad," just that I would have made different choices. As it is, there is a lot of looping back to certain topics and the narrative isn't strictly chronological. If I had my dithers, I would have streamlined a bit more.

All in all, this is a book that lived up to its substantial hype. Even if you don't watch The Daily Show, this is still a memoir that will both entertain and educate.


Trevor crafts his story beautifully. The way he talks about his mother is inspiring.


Bookaxe Characteristics for Born A Crime

Character and Plot:

Characters in depth

Fast-paced plot

Language and Style:

Straight to the point

Language and style central

New Information:

Pure entertainment

Introduces you to new ideas


Explores the darker side of life
Light-hearted and optimistic


No swearing or violence etc
Frequent swearing and violence etc

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