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Born a Crime

by Trevor Noah


Reviews

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Having thoroughly mined his South African upbringing in his standup comedy and monologues on The Daily Show, Noah here tells the whole story in this witty and revealing autobiography. Born to a black African mother and a white Swedish father, Noah violated the Immorality Act of 1927, which outlawed interracial relationships. Though apartheid ended a decade after Noah's birth, its legacy lived on in the country's nigh-inescapable ghettos and perpetual racial conflicts, continuing to affect his life as he came of age. Noah's story is the story of modern South Africa; though he enjoyed some privileges of the region's slow Westernization, his formative years were shaped by poverty, injustice, and violence. Noah is quick with a disarming joke, and he skillfully integrates the parallel narratives via interstitial asides between chapters to explain the finer details of African culture and history for the uninformed. Perhaps the most harrowing tales are those of his abusive stepfather, which form the book's final act (and which Noah cleverly foreshadows throughout earlier chapters), but equally prominent are the laugh-out-loud yarns about going to the prom, and the differences between "White Church" and "Black Church." (Nov.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* South African comedian Noah brings a fresh and tonic perspective to the role of host for The Daily Show, frequently joking about life as a mixed-race child under the tyranny of apartheid. He now reveals the full brunt of the terror and diabolical absurdity he endured in this substantial collection of staggering personal essays deftly shaped by his stand-up gifts for timing and precision. Incisive, funny, and vivid, these true tales are anchored to his portrait of his courageous, rebellious, and religious mother, who defied racially restrictive laws to secure an education and a career for herself and to have a child with a white Swiss German even though sex between whites and blacks was illegal; neither parent could be seen in public with their son. So dangerous was life for mischievous, polyglot Noah that he spent much of his time alone indoors and later endured hunger, homelessness, jail, and violence. But his episodic and electrifying memoir sparkles with funny stories of epic teen awkwardness, astounding accounts of his nervy entrepreneurial success as a music bootlegger and DJ, and vibrant and insightful descriptions of daily life in Johannesburg and Soweto. Noah's coming-of-age paralleled South Africa's emergence from apartheid, and his candid and compassionate essays deepen our perception of the complexities of race, gender, and class. Hopefully, Noah will continue to tell his bracing and redefining story. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: High-powered promotion will push celebrity comedian Noah's book forward, and buzz about just how excellent a work it is will sustain readership.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2016 Booklist


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