|Sadie enjoying a snooze while we discussed Born a Crime. Photo used with permission.|
Title: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Book Beginnings quote:
Summary: Trevor Noah, the comedian who is the host of The Daily Show on the Comedy Central channel, grew up in South Africa during the time that apartheid was becoming dismantled, though racism was alive and well. Apartheid attempted to categorize people according to their race and ethnicity to keep them separate. Noah, a mixed race child born to a black South African woman and a white Swiss man, did not fit into a category so was often on the outside in social/school settings. His birth was evidence of a crime, since it was illegal for whites and blacks to have sex and/or create children together. For this reasons his mother went to extreme measures to hide him until the tyrannical apartheid "whites rule" ended. From that point Noah and his mother, though very poor, spent a lot of time on low-cost adventures.
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.--The Publisher
Review: I am a big fan of Trevor Noah and the Daily Show. When everything in life seems ultra serious these days it is good to turn on Comedy Central just before bed and watch Noah talk about politics and the news of the day from a decidedly funny point of view. I've long wanted to read this memoir so I was glad when it was chosen as our book club's October reading selection. I assumed, others in my club did too, that the book would walk the readers through Noah's march from poverty in South Africa to his rise to fame as a comedian and his stint on The Daily Show. Well, we were all wrong. The book was only about his life in South Africa and only mentioned once, as an aside, that he was starting to work the clubs as a comedian. If someone wants to know how Trevor Noah got from there to here, this is not the book to read. But if someone wants to learn more about life in South Africa at the end of apartheid and about what a remarkable child Noah was and what a phenomenal mother he had, this is your book.
I listened to the audiobook read by Trevor Noah himself. One of the things I loved most about this experience of listening to it was the way Noah used language. He learned from his mother the value of speaking to people in their own language and he knows many South African languages at least well enough to converse in them. The Friday56 quote is an example where Noah perfectly recites the Africaans quotes so the listeners could hear the language. My book club is made up of current and retired high school teachers. Three of the gals are retired world language teachers. They all spoke very passionately about how much they appreciated Noah's comments about the importance of language in building bridges with people.
The photo at the top of this page is our hostess's dog, Sadie, who joined us as we sat outside near propane heaters to discuss Born a Crime. I highly recommend this book for book clubs and for anyone who enjoys reading about other cultures or just likes Trevor Noah.
-AnneRHS Book Club, October 2020