Born a Crime by Trevor Noah | thoughts mid-read


Okay, okay, okay, so. I’m only on Chapter 7, but this book is so good that I just need to share it.

“The doctors took her up to the delivery room, cut open her belly, and reached in and pulled out a half-white, half-black child who violated any number of laws, statutes and regulations. I was born a crime.”

You might know Trevor Noah as the amazing South African comedian with a great smile and charming dimples, or the new host of The Daily Show, or the outsider constantly startled by the absurdity of American life yet always able to turn it into a good laugh, but in his new memoir, Born a Crime, he is simply Trevor.

I keep hearing so much about this book, and I absolutely adore Trevor Noah. So when my new Audible credit for this month rolled around, I jumped on it and got the book. The audiobook of Born a Crime is narrated by Trevor Noah himself, and the experience is incredible.


In his book, he’s the half-white, half-black kid who grew up under Apartheid.

He’s the kid who stood in the middle of playground during recess, not knowing whether to follow his black schoolmates or his white schoolmates.

“And at some point, you have to choose: black or white, pick a side. You can try to hide from it, you can say ‘oh I don’t pick sides’, but at some point life will force you to pick a side.”

He’s the son of a Xhosa mother and a Swiss father, which meant that he couldn’t be seen walking together with either of his parents in public, but the book isn’t whiny. It was simply honest- when you live in life’s absurdities, you don’t realize it. You try to make the most out of it.

The narrative is matter-of-fact, earnest and proud.

She [my grandmother] had a two-room house…Some people might say, we lived like poor people. I prefer “open-plan”.

Rather than being all wry and straight-up funny and this-is-my-personal-story-but-really-it’s-polished inspirational anecdotes, which one tends to find a lot in autobiographies by celebrities, Born a Crime is raw, brave, and unafraid to get serious. 

But of course, Trevor being Trevor, the book is still incredibly funny, and a warm bubble rises in me when I listen to the book. It’s not punchline funny. It’s more like witty and full of hope.

Right after profound insights into the mechanisms of Apartheid, you get lines like this:

“I think God made humans shit the way we do, because it brings us back down to earth, and gives us humility… Beyoncé shits…”

Overall, this book is so real, so full of love and so mind-blowing. It helps you dive right into an experience you may never have a chance to witness otherwise. It’s funny not by being ignorant, but by being honest and optimistic. It celebrates differences, and most importantly, it moves by tapping into something shared by our entire humanity.

I would totally recommend the read. Or better still, get the Audiobook. If you don’t have an Audible account, start a one-month free trial and use it to listen to Born a Crime. It is so worth it. Here’s the link

If you want to learn more about Trevor Noah, go watch some of his stand-up shows!
Or watch him utterly destroy Tomi Lahren on his show. It’ll make your day.

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