A review by lailasmajnun
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah

funny informative inspiring reflective fast-paced


Dates Read: March 10, 2022 - March 17, 2022
Extraneous Reason for Reading?: Independent reading book chosen for World

Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime is, simply put, fantastic. It captured my attention from the opening chapter and never once was I disinterested in the stories he had to tell. Noah does a fantastic job of making a concept such as apartheid, which many people (especially in Western nations) do not understand, so easily digestible. Noah’s way of incorporating simple statements that truly emphasized what life was like under apartheid is well worthy of applause. His childhood tales were told humorously and I was genuinely interested in his stories.

I especially liked how candid this book was, how Noah spoke of his life as it was a simple life while also taking into account the position he was in, growing up mixed in apartheid and dirrectly post-apartheid South Africa. He also is able to seriously approach topics that are often considered difficult to talk about, including but not limited to colonialism, religion, race, racism, and segregation. Notes and comments he made about his childhood and the political state of the country were very simplistic, which I believe emphasized his point even more. There was no-nonsense in this book: all the facts were laid out and Noah’s commentary was straight to the point. 

The book had certain notable statements, such as:
  • “Racism exists. People are getting hurt, and just because it’s not happening to you doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”
  • “Racism is not logical.”
  • “Because racism exists, and you have to pick a side. You can say that you don’t pick sides, but eventually life will force you to pick a side.”
These statements hold power. They are so simple and yet hold so much weight, due in part to their simplicity. Noah’s ability to condense a topic so that it does not interfere with the overall tone of the book while also taking a serious approach to its importance contributes to the lasting impact of his words.

Overall, I truly enjoyed Born a Crime. I learned a lot from his firsthand source about growing up in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa, both about the political and social state of the country at the time Noah was growing up and the history of colonialism in South Africa as well as its effects. This book was not at all hard to read; Noah’s humor contributes to how easy his book is to understand and to finish without feeling beat up. 

Note: Certain allegories and comments made in this book, especially those about cultures that Noah himself is not a part of (mainly on Jewish culture/people and Judaism) did bother me in part.

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