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Born a crime : stories from a South African childhood
Book
2016
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  Library Journal Review

Many people know Noah as the current host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show; however, one doesn't need to be familiar with his comedy and commentary to enjoy this fascinating and funny memoir. Born during apartheid to a Swiss-German father and black Xhosa mother, Noah shares stories from his formative years when he often felt more like an outsider than the shining star he is today. His stories give insight into not only his personal history but the culture and history of South Africa. The subject matter is difficult, with violence, racism, and poverty all being part of his complex narrative. Despite his circumstances, Noah is able to find humor and love even in the worst of times, mostly owing to his strong-willed, independent, and devoutly Christian mother. VERDICT Noah is a talented performer, and language (he speaks several, including Zulu, Tswana, Afrikaans, and Tsonga) is such an important part of his story that it should be listened to in his own voice in order to be truly appreciated. Audio at its best.-Theresa Horn, St. Joseph Cty. P.L., South Bend, IN © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

*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

  Kirkus Review

The host of The Daily Show reflects on his tumultuous South African childhood.In a gritty memoir, Noah relates his harsh experiences growing up during the final years of apartheid and the chaotic and racially charged conflicts that would continue to undermine the newly won freedom that was established in its aftermath. His story unfolds through a series of loosely assembled essays that touch on his home life and school environment and later expand outward to various cities and neighborhoods and his encounters with petty crime and confrontations with domestic violence. Throughout, the author documents the evolving yet continually challenging race relations among blacks, whites, and coloreds. Noah was born the son of a white Swiss-German father and a devoutly Christian black Xhosa mother who purposely chose to have a child through a mixed relationship, with full understanding of the legal ramifications established under the Immorality Act of 1927, which banned illicit carnal relations between a native woman and a European male.nbsp;Noahs mother proved to be the dominant, remarkable force throughout his life, constantly striving to instill deep values of education, religion, and freedom as she struggled with her own desire fornbsp;independence. Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that my mother started her little project, me, at a time when she could not have known that apartheid would end, writes the author. There was no reason to think it would end; it had seen generations come and go. I was nearly six when Mandela was released, ten before democracy finally came, yet she was preparing me to live a life of freedom long before we knew freedom would exist. On the whole, though studded with insight and provocative social criticism, Noahs material doesnt feel fully digested. As an accomplished adult humorist looking back to his childhood self, the attempt to inject a humorous tone into these grim proceedings frequently hits an awkward note. A somewhat disjointed narrative with flashes of brilliant storytelling and acute observations on South African culture.nbsp; Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man's coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed <br> <br> NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Michiko Kakutani, New York Times * USA Today * San Francisco Chronicle * NPR * Esquire * Newsday * Booklist <br> <br> Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love.<br> <br> Praise for Born a Crime<br> <br> "[A] compelling new memoir . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah's] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah's family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author's remarkable mother." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times <br> <br> "[An] unforgettable memoir." -- Parade<br> <br> "What makes Born a Crime such a soul-nourishing pleasure, even with all its darker edges and perilous turns, is reading Noah recount in brisk, warmly conversational prose how he learned to negotiate his way through the bullying and ostracism. . . . What also helped was having a mother like Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah. . . . Consider Born a Crime another such gift to her--and an enormous gift to the rest of us." --USA Today <br> <br> "[Noah] thrives with the help of his astonishingly fearless mother. . . . Their fierce bond makes this story soar." --People
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