BOOK REVIEW: Born a Crime

Book, Book Review, Review

RATING: ★★★★★

Author: Trevor Noah

Pages: 224

Published: November 15, 2016


When it was announced that Trevor Noah would replaced John Stewart as host of The Daily Show in 2015 many people were like, “who?” The South African comedian was relatively unknown to North American audiences. But it has been a little over a year with Noah behind the desk, with him making The Daily Show his own. This one-year anniversary of his hosting gig is also marked with the release of his book Born a Crime.

This books serves as an opportunity to get to know a bit more about the man behind the hit Comedy Central show as well as provide some insight to a completely different culture. As the title points out, the birth of Trevor Noah was a crime. Born to a black South African woman and a white Swiss-German man during apartheid, his presence was evidence of an illegal act in his country.

And that’s just the launch pad for this book, with Noah choosing to highlight more about his life and upbringing in South Africa then how be became the host of The Daily Show. With the former being the more interesting by far, Noah describes his childhood during this apartheid making his childhood incredibly different than most. But the hardships that Noah experiences and explains to his audience is never told in a way that asks for sympathy from the reader, but rather told in a ‘matter of fact’ manner. Acknowledging that you never really know what your own experience is like until you start comparing yourself to others.

The real hero in this book is not Noah (which is shocking since it is about his own life) but his mother. She is his champion and the person who seems to have taught him everything and have the most impact on his life. Writing about his mother with a particular fondness and admiration but also not shying away from her flaws which makes everyone human. The relationship between Noah and his mother, which is told from the very first sentence of the book, is the heart his story. She is the source of most of the laugh, tears, and lessons this book provides.


“People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.”


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